School-Ready Smiles

School-Ready Smiles

Dental checkups help children make the grade

No back-to-school checklist is complete without a visit to the dentist.

A dental checkup should be part of a child’s routine as the school year begins, along with a visit to the doctor for a checkup and immunizations.

It’s hard to learn when your teeth hurt! Did you know:

  • More than 40 percent of children entering kindergarten suffer from tooth decay.1
  • More than 19 percent of children ages 2-19 have untreated cavities.2
  • Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in the country.
  • Every year, children miss 51 million hours of school because of oral health problems.3

Students who are absent miss critical instruction time, especially in the early grades where basic math and reading skills are taught. And regular dental checkups are important because your dentist can find small problems before they become big and painful.

In addition to seeing a dentist, parents should encourage their child to brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for two minutes each time, and floss every day. It’s important to brush or rinse with water after lunch, even at school.

This information is available for download as an oral health flyer.

1 Pierce KM, Rozier RG and Vann WF Jr., “Accuracy of Pediatric Primary Care Providers’ Screening and Referral for Early Childhood Caries,” Pediatrics 109, no. 5 (2002): e82.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Untreated Dental Caries (Cavities) in Children Ages 2–19, United States,” web.
3 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General—Executive Summary,” web.


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