Millions of children soon will head off to a new school year. Routine physical examinations, including hearing and vision tests, help ensure that students are in good health before school begins. When scheduling health care appointments, don't overlook a dental checkup for your child. A dental examination is as important as booster shots and should be a regular part of back-to-school preparations. Some states may require dental checkups at three-year intervals; other states have no requirements. However, children need to see their dentist at intervals recommended by their dentist. Many parents and caregivers don't realize that serious tooth decay is an infectious disease for which there is no immunization.

More than one-half of all children aged 5 to 9 years have at least one cavity or filling. A painful tooth or chronic dental problem can lead to difficulty in eating, speaking and concentrating. Children with chronic dental pain may not always voice their problem. They may appear anxious, depressed or tired, but teachers may not recognize their pain. Dental problems also cause many children to miss school.

Regular dental checkups and preventive dental care, such as cleanings and fluoride treatment, provide children with "smile" insurance. Routine dental examinations uncover problems that can be treated in the early stages, when damage is minimal and restorations may be small. This helps prevent painful, chronic conditions and saves money.

When necessary, radiographs (commonly called "X-rays") are taken to see how the teeth are developing and to spot hidden decay. Every child should have an orthodontic evaluation by age 7. Early examination and treatment may prevent or reduce the severity of malocclusions (or "bad bite") in the permanent teeth.

Because children's needs differ, your dentist is best able to suggest a schedule of visits for your child. The frequency of dental visits will depend partly on the child's eating habits, how clean the teeth are kept, past treatment needs, whether the child drinks fluoridated water, and other factors that can affect the likelihood of dental diseases.

This great info courtesty of Metlife Oral Health Library. 

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