MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children, causing them to miss more than 51 million school hours each year. Untreated cavities may lead to infections and problems with focusing in school. The Minnesota Dental Association recommends scheduling your child for a dental checkup during the beginning of the school year.

The following are tips to help prepare for your child’s appointment.

Overall Dental Health
The dentist will check your child’s teeth and gums, as well as the overall health of the mouth. They will check to see if teeth are lining up correctly and if their bite is good.

No matter how much your child brushes their teeth, your child should get a cleaning. A professional cleaning will get to bacteria that may cause cavities. Normal brushing cannot reach these areas.

X-rays are done only when necessary, not at every dental visit. X-rays help the dentist see how teeth are developing and to make sure roots are healthy. They also make tooth decay between teeth visible.

If your child plays sports, be sure to bring his or her mouthguard in so the dentist can check its condition and fit. If your child is in a growth spurt or losing teeth and getting new ones, you may need a new mouthguard.

A sealant is a thin protective coating your dentist can place on the chewing surfaces of your child’s permanent back teeth. Sealants work to keep cavity-causing bacteria and food from settling into your child’s teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. Sealants help keep cavities from forming and existing spots of decay from getting worse. Note that sealants are not a substitute for brushing and flossing.

Prevention and early detection are key to avoiding dental pain. Find an MDA member dentist at www.mndental.org and schedule your back-to-school appointment.

The Minnesota Dental Association is the voice of dentistry in Minnesota, representing practicing dentists. It is committed to the highest standards of oral health and access to care for all Minnesotans. You can learn more at www.mndental.org.