Are Basic Dental Screenings in Schools Good Enough?
Regular school visits from a dental clinic is indeed a great idea. These visits serve as a constant reinforcement about the importance of oral hygiene and the significance of dental checkups.
During the routine school visits, the dentist educates the children about proper brushing techniques, teaches the importance of flossing and also gives recommended dietary advice.
The visiting dentist generally uses a mouth mirror to have a quick look at the teeth and this is done for several students in a short period of time. We consider this kind of checkup a “quick screening’ as it picks up only the obvious cavities or other obvious concerns. There is a high possibility of missed diagnosis during such visits.
Checkups in the dental chair comprise proper probing of each area of the tooth, detailed examination of gums health, tongue positioning, breathing habits, teeth alignment and overall development of jaws.
Based on the age of the child and status of dental health, bitewing X-rays and panaromic X-rays are advised.
The bitewing X-rays are done to evaluate the presence of any caries (cavities or decay) in between the contacts of two teeth and also to determine the extent of decays in case they exist. X-rays can then help to create a tentative treatment plan.
Although the focus in young kids is mainly the primary teeth (also called baby teeth or milk teeth), it is important to remember that these teeth stay in the mouth until the age of ten to twelve years, thereby making it important that they should be healthy and caries-free.
Since such an extensive examination is not possible at the school screening checkups, complete dental checkup appointment at the dentist is advisable every six months.
Additionally, during your child’s appointment, your dentist will emphasize on preventive efforts of cleaning and fluoride.
The gold standard of our practice is to prevent the decays rather than treating the ones that could have been avoided in the first place or could have been diagnosed in time far before any treatment is required.