Formulate a back to school good oral health plan and your child will enter school in good form!
Summer break will soon be over and it will be time to return to school! Parents and caregivers are preparing to get school supplies together and fill out all of the necessary health forms. For Kentucky children attending school for the first time as kindergartners, the dental screening or exam form is mandatory. Requirements were passed to emphasize the importance of oral health to children and to prepare them for the school year. Screenings are also designed to identify which children are in need of treatment.
If you have a child entering kindergarten who will soon begin their exciting learning adventure, keep in mind that good oral health is an integral component of healthy development and optimal childhood learning. Children free from dental pain and infection can focus on their schooling. Can you imagine trying to concentrate on learning while suffering from a toothache? Tooth decay and other dental diseases can not only have long-lasting impacts on a child’s ability to learn but also to speak and eat.
Did you know tooth decay is one of the top chronic infectious diseases in the U.S.? Ensuring that kids have access to preventive and restorative dental care services will help children to succeed. No child should be held back from their full potential in school because of dental disease. The University of Louisville Dental School and the University of Kentucky School of Dentistry are offering free dental screening for children entering kindergarten this year.
The back to school season is a great time for all families regardless of age or grade to focus on their oral health routine and incorporate it into existing morning, after school, and bedtime regimens. Make sure to practice the following preventive dental care at home:
- Brush your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day.
- Floss your teeth once a day.
- Limit sugary drinks and choose fluoridated tap water.
- Replace your toothbrush every three or four months and after an illness.
While you are filling out all those back to school forms and marking your calendar with field trips, open houses, PTA meetings, and school break dates, why not take the opportunity to schedule dental appointments for YOU and your children. Ask about topical fluoride treatments and dental sealants. Regular dental exams are a critical part of preventive health care. They help protect your oral health and give your dentist a chance to detect problems early when they’re most treatable. Take time for self care! Parents and guardians often neglect their own health during busy seasons. Prioritizing your health needs shows children that making time for preventive care is important!
Back to School Open House Oral Health Checklist – When you and your children are finding classrooms and meeting teachers, keep your eyes open for the following:
- Does your child have access to water bottle filling stations, water fountains, or is the school providing bottled water? Any kind of water is a healthy drink choice for oral health, but fluoridated tap water provides extra protection for your teeth.
- Are there tempting vending machines with sugary drinks and sweets in the cafeteria? The eating habits your kids learn today will impact them for the rest of their lives. Teach them the “what,” “when,” and “how” of teeth-healthy snacking to set them up for years of nutritious choices. Look at the menu. You and your child can decide which days to eat in or pack a lunch.
- Double check that your child is up to date on their immunizations. Making sure that your Kentucky Certification of Immunization is up to date is important for keeping your child and their classmates safe from preventable diseases. You can double check what vaccinations are required for your grade level by checking the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services website.
Make this the best school year ever! Get the school outfit ready, pick out your favorite themed lunch box, and as you show off those pearly whites for a first day photo memory, remember oral health is much more than a bright, beautiful smile.
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