Back-to-school checklist: Don’t forget to add dental appointments

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

This school year, Delta Dental of Illinois wants to remind Illinois parents to include a dental appointment on the back-to-school checklist. Having a healthy smile can help improve kids’ concentration and performance in the classroom and may help reduce school absences. In Illinois, almost 40 percent of children ages 6 to 12 missed school due to an oral health problem in the past 12 months according to a recent Delta Dental of Illinois survey of Illinois parents. Oral health issues can distract kids in the classroom, causing them to fall behind in coursework. “Untreated oral health problems can cause discomfort, making it difficult for children to concentrate in school,” said Dr. Sheila Strock, vice president, dental services and science officer at Delta Dental of Illinois. “When a child has serious tooth decay, it can affect overall health and can lead to problems eating, speaking and learning.” Delta Dental of Illinois offers the following tips to help make back-to-school health appointments easier:

Choose the right doctors. Schedule appointments with a dentist and optometrist who have experience with children and work to create a welcoming environment for children. A family-friendly office can make a doctor’s visit more comfortable and enjoyable for your child.

Minimize uncertainty. Make sure children know what to expect before each appointment. Describe what will happen and explain why visiting the dentist and optometrist are just as important for your child’s health as visiting their general doctor. Consider reading fun books about oral health habits, including visiting the dentist, to reinforce why it’s important for kids to take good care of their teeth.  

Plan a healthy reward. Make the appointments more exciting for kids by offering to do a fun, healthy activity afterward, like a family bike ride or a trip for frozen yogurt.

Set a positive example. Make sure your kids know that you visit the dentist and optometrist. Doctor visits can be scary for some kids, but showing them that you’re not afraid can help. Confidently talk about your experiences and how you stay calm during visits.

For more tips on improving kids’ health, visit  

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