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  • Writer's pictureDr. Peter - Pediatric Dentist in Arlington, Virginia

Back to School Dental Check Up - 6 Secrets for Success

School may look and feel a little different this year for many families with children in Northern Virginia and DC, but don't let your child's back to school dental health check be forgotten! Although regular dental checkups and visits are important at all times, a back to school cleaning is key to help fight the most common chronic disease found in children (cavities). Did you know that children miss over 51 million hours of school each year due to dental disease and treatment needs? Although COVID-19 has made all of our lives very different, Dr. Peter gives some tips to make sure your next visit to the pediatric dentist for a back to school check up is a breeze.

Dr. Peter, a pediatric dentist, and the team at VK Pediatric Dentistry are experts at children's oral health and provide the best pediatric dental care for kids in Arlington, McLean, Northern Virginia and DC. Prevention of dental disease, early detection of problems, and regular checks ups for proper growth and development and age related milestones can help your children avoid pain, trouble eating, and more.

Try to Plan Ahead

Camping trips exploring the Potomac, last minute vacations, sports camps, and anything else on your bucket list can make things sneak up quicker than you think. There are so many changes happening that it's easy to forget about getting your child's teeth checked and cleaned but don't let it happen to you! Back to school cleanings are one of the busiest times of the year for pediatric dentists so do not hesitate to book your appointment in advance (We have convenient hours and online scheduling to make it easy for busy families).

Encourage Healthy Dental Habits at Home

Dr. Peter's favorite appointments are the ones that are cavity free. Although cavities can occur and we are here to help if they do, try your best to encourage healthy choices at home. We want to give parents and children the knowledge and tools so that their teeth are taken care of from a young age all the way through adulthood.

Kids aged 6 and under:

At this point, your child may want to be independent with their oral health but they most likely do not have the fine motor skills needed to do a good enough job. We often encourage children to clean their own teeth first and then let a parent jump in where needed. Most children can start brushing their own teeth by the time they can tie their own shoes. If you need our favorite kid's toothbrush recommendations, look here.

Kids aged 7-12:

At this point, your child knows what to do but getting them to actually do it may be a struggle. Do your best to encourage them whenever they do a good job. You may still have to help them (especially when it comes to flossing) but they should start getting better about taking control of their own oral health and care. If your child is particularly unmotivated, one thing we like to do is encouragement through rewards. Set up a calendar on your phone or in the bathroom and give your child a star every time they brush/floss well. At the end of the week or month (or whatever time period you want) they get a prize - whether it's a toy, movie night selection, or their choice in dinner, a positive association with oral health can help them stay motivated even if they are too young to fully appreciate the importance of a cavity free mouth.

12 and Older:

This is one of the most important times for stressing proper oral health. Teenagers are going to be much more independent at this age but if you look at the research, there is a distinct uptick in cavities in teenagers and early adulthood. Many teens may have gone years without having a cavity and think they don't need to take care of their teeth. They may not fully understand the consequences so don't let them give up as these habits will definitely carry forward into their early 20's. They aren't 'kids' anymore, but they still will often need reminders and praise.

Don't Keep Them Hungry!

Feel free to feed your child a light meal before their dental appointments. A quick snack before leaving for your dental visit can go a long way to ensure your children aren't cranky at their appointment just because they're hungry. We'd recommend a light meal (some eggs, toast, etc) and not a full continental breakfast. If it's not too much to ask, having your children brush after the meal is definitely appreciated.

Grab A Business Card (Or Three)

Accidents happen when you're least expecting them and usually on a Friday night. Grab a few of our business cards on your way out because accidents can happen everywhere - from sports camps to gyms to school recess, we want your child's teachers, coaches, and care takers to have all the medical and dental information they need - including Dr. Peter's number. Grab a business card for your wallet or their backpack. Dr. Peter trained at one of the highest regarded Children's Hospitals in the Nation and has a wealth of experience to ensure any pediatric dental emergencies are taken care of.

Siblings? Make One Child a Model

One of the most powerful psychological traits in children is something called modeling. When a child sees another child (especially a sibling or loved one) act a certain way, they will often mimic that behavior. What does that mean for dentist visits? If you've scheduled your children together, let the child who has had the best dental visits or most positive experiences go first. Every child is unique, but most of the time if a sibling can see how well an appointment goes, they will often mimic that behavior and do better themselves (even if they've never gone or have anxiety). This can be a useful tool for dental care at home too - whether it's brushing, flossing, or proper diet.

Anxiety - Leave It At Home!

Kids can pick up on their parents anxiety even if they don't say anything. It's incredibly important to allow us to do what we are specialists at - creating a positive, safe, and fun environment for kids to look forward to their dental visits. Often times a parent's phobia or bad experience at their dentist can reflect on a child and determine how their behavior is before the appointment even starts! If your child has questions about fillings, shots, cavities, etc, let them ask the dentist at their visit. We use kid friendly terms and have years of experience explaining things so that children understand what is necessary without scaring them or setting them up for fears. With any child, we want them to feel successful at their visit and have that positive message for the rest of their lives.

VK Pediatric Dentistry

5001 Langston Blvd, Arlington VA 22207

Schedule An Appointment Today in Arlington, Virginia at VK Pediatric Dentistry

If you haven't taken your child to a pediatric dentist yet or would like to schedule an appointment, Dr. Peter and the highly skilled team at VK Pediatric Dentistry are just a phone call away. Schedule an appointment online or call us today at 703-962-7814. We look forward to providing your children a lifetime of healthy and happy smiles!!


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