Back-to-School Dental Visits Recommended for K-12 Students
Risk of skipping regular cleaning and exams outweighs risk of COVID-19 infections
LITTLE ROCK, AR—Even with rising COVID-19 infection rates, Delta Dental of Arkansas is urging Arkansans to follow an important annual tradition: Schedule back-to-school dentist appointments for your K-12 children. Dental experts agree that the risk of neglecting preventive care exams and professional cleanings far outweighs the risk of catching the virus from a dentist visit.
“If K-12 students see their dentist now, they can be examined and, if necessary, treated for tooth decay and gum disease before severe pain distracts them from paying attention in class or causes them to miss school,” said Thomas Redd, DDS, MS and Vice President, Professional Relations at Delta Dental of Arkansas. “Children and parents should not worry about the safety of their visit during the pandemic because dental offices follow CDC infection control protocols to protect the health of their patients and staff.”
The oral health state of America’s elementary and secondary students leaves a bad taste in the mouth:
- Dental-related problems are the #1 reason for K-12 students to miss school, exceeding 51 million hours each year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates.
- Tooth decay remains the most common chronic disease for children and youth ages 5 through 19, outpacing asthma and hay fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Poor oral health negatively affects academic performance. A study by the American Journal of Health showed that elementary students distracted in class or absent from school because of dental pain had lower grade-point averages compared to their peers without oral health issues.
Despite the alarming statistics, tooth decay is largely preventable with regular dental check-ups, proper oral hygiene and a healthy diet. For most individuals, semiannual dental visits are recommended.
Scheduling one of these visits for students as they return to school is ideal because it occurs at the end of a long summer break with disrupted routines. During those lazy days, kids were more likely to indulge in ice cream, candy and sodas and pay less attention to regular brushing and flossing. As a result, cavity-causing tartar and plaque might have built up that need to be removed by a dental professional. The dentist will also conduct a thorough examination of teeth and gums and, if needed, take x-rays to diagnose dental decay or gum disease.
Although the back-to-school dental check-up should be a tradition, the actual visit may look a bit different these days. Dental offices have taken additional safety precautions designed to protect patients and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients are encouraged to call ahead of time to inquire about what to expect.
Delta Dental of Arkansas covers the charges for those preventive exams and cleanings at little to no cost to its members, including Medicaid recipients whose claims are processed by Delta Dental.
Scheduling that dental appointment without delay will give parents and their children peace of mind and healthy smiles all semester long until the next visit six months from now.
About Delta Dental of Arkansas
Delta Dental of Arkansas is the largest dental benefits provider in the state, helping more than 800,000 Arkansans keep their smiles healthy through commercial and Medicaid coverage. As a not-for-profit company, Delta Dental is committed to improving the oral health of Arkansans through the philanthropic efforts of its Foundation, which donated more than $3 million to support oral health education initiatives in the last three years. For more information, visit www.deltadentalar.com/.
Media Contact: Dave Hawsey
Vice President, Marketing