Your Child’s School May Require a Dental Exam

School required dental exam for kidsMany primary & secondary schools across the United States (& in some other countries) require students to have a dental exam from a pediatric dentist or family dentist before they finish certain grade levels.

Most schools will not prevent a child from attending class if they don’t get the required exam, or if a dentist determines their oral health makes them unfit to attend school. However, other penalties may be placed on the child or parents in these situations. For example, if proof of the required dental exam isn’t provided, schools may withhold the child’s report card, which could make it hard for the student to move on the the next grade or matriculate.

The exams required by most schools are mainly focused on finding tooth decay-related problems, or “any other condition that interferes with a student’s ability to chew, speak or focus on school activities.”[source] This type of exam is already part of your child’s regular checkup at the dentist, so if your child already visits the dentist regularly, you will probably not have to make a new appointment for the school required dental exam. School-required exams usually do not involve x-rays (radiographs).

Children’s oral health can have a big impact on their early lives, their later health, & even on their academic success. A report on the implementation of the Illinois law that requires dental exams for schoolchildren stated:

An estimated 51 million school hours per year are lost because of dental-related illness. Poor oral health has been related to decreased school performance, poor social relationships, and less success later in life. Children experiencing pain are distracted and unable to concentrate on schoolwork. Children should enter school free from dental problems. [source]

Some states also collect data (confidentially & anonymously) from the results of these exams. Putting all this data from different schools & grades together gives them a good idea of how well the teeth of children in the community are being cared for.

The state of Illinois requires a dental exam for Kindergarten, 2nd Grade & 6th Grade students. Other states with similar requirements include New York, Kentucky, West Virginia, & Oregon. State-enforced requirements usually apply to all schools, including public, private & parochial (religious) schools. Some local governments (such as county or city) & even some school districts may require dental exams for students even if it isn’t mandated by state law.

If you don’t know whether your child’s school requires a dental health screening, the best way to find out would be to contact the school directly & ask. Children who do not yet have a regular dentist that they go to can often get recommendations from their school of a local pediatric dentist or family dentist who can help.

If your child’s school does require a dental screening, make sure you mention this at your child’s next dental exam so the dentist knows to fill out & provide you with the appropriate form certifying your child has been examined.

 

Today’s Many Options for Braces

Young girl with braces

Source: BRENDA MICHELLE on Flickr

When you think of braces, you may think of months to years of a mouth full of metal, but just like all other technologies, the technology of straightening teeth has advanced in recent years. There are lots of options for braces these days, some of which you might not even call braces.

For example, invisible braces systems (like Invisalign®) use clear aligner trays to gently coax your teeth into position. These types of aligners can be removed temporarily to eat, so there are fewer restrictions on the foods you can enjoy when using clear aligners to get straighter smile. Invisible braces treatment can be performed by your dentist, without the need to visit an orthodontist separately (though most orthodontists also do invisible braces).

There are also lingual braces, which are essentially invisible because they are on the backside of your teeth (near your tongue). Lingual braces are a great option for those who want to straighten their teeth without appearing to have braces. However, because lingual braces are very customized, they may cost more than traditional braces that go on the front of your teeth.

Clear or white braces are another option that can straighten your teeth nearly invisibly. Clear braces use clear or white brackets instead of metal ones, so your braces are not as obvious. From a distance, people may not notice your braces at all.

You can complete your braces treatment more quickly by choosing one of the fast or quick braces technologies. These braces systems use innovative new versions of orthodontic technology to move teeth more quickly, or only move a few teeth at a time, so you can have a straight, aligned smile in as little as three to six months, as opposed to the typical 12 to 18 months with regular braces.

And then there are traditional metal braces with metal brackets. While not the most aesthetically pleasing, traditional braces have a unique advantage over all the other types of tooth straightening technology: they can be used to treat nearly any orthodontic problem. Not everyone’s teeth can be helped by the clear, fast or invisible options mentioned above. Ultimately, a dozen or so months wearing braces is worth it for a new straight smile that will last for years to come.

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment when it comes to braces. There are lots of elements to consider when choosing an option for braces, including time, cost, appearance, & what needs to be fixed (overbite, underbite, crossbite, etc.). Your dentist & your orthodontist can discuss the options with you & help you choose a treatment plan that fits your needs & desires.

Emergency Dental Care

woman with toothache needs emergency dental careEven if you take excellent care of your teeth & mouth, sometimes an unforeseen incident could put you in need of emergency dental care. Whether the culprit for your emergency is an injury, a rogue popcorn kernel, or just a mystery toothache, our dental clinic is here for you in an emergency.

First of all, if you are experiencing a dental-related emergency that is potentially life-threatening, you should contact emergency medical services immediately (by calling 911 in the U.S. & Canada; 999 in the United Kingdom; or 000 in Australia).

If you have a dental emergency during our regular clinic hours, we should be able to accommodate you & get you in as soon as possible. When you call us, be clear that you are in pain & are having an emergency & we will make sure the dentist is available for you.

If you are in need of emergency dental care when our practice is closed, our phone answering service will receive your call & contact the dentist. The dentist will be able to provide advice or arrange to see you at our office as soon as possible if your situation is urgent.

The most common cause of a dental emergency is an injury, whether from sports, a fall, or another kind of accident. As mentioned above, if the injury may be life-threatening, contact emergency services before contacting the dentist. If the injury is not life-threatening, you should call us as soon as possible so we can provide advice & arrange to see you.

Another common reason for emergency dental care is a toothache. Toothaches can be caused by infections resulting from poor oral hygiene, but they can also result from a dental injury that has turned into an abscess. For example, if you took a tumble off your skateboard & bumped your face but didn’t see any damage at the time, it’s possible for pain to appear later on.

Toothaches can also be caused by a cracked tooth or a cracked filling that has become infected. Chances are when you crack a tooth you’ll feel it happen at the time, whether you’re biting down on a hard candy (naughty!) or a stray bone in your chicken dinner. If you think you may have cracked a tooth, crown, or filling, even if you don’t have a toothache, it’s a good idea to contact us as soon as possible for emergency dental care, just so we can take a quick look & make sure you don’t need further treatment.