We’re halfway through summer, which means it’s time to start preparing for back to school. This includes stocking up on supplies, shopping for fall clothes and making sure school work assigned over the summer is complete. As you start preparing for the new academic year, it’s also a good time to consider the importance of making appointments for your child’s back-to-school checkups, including dental, medical and eye doctor visits.
Now is a great time to schedule these back-to-school checkups, because once September arrives, time gets limited between school, homework and extracurricular activities. But while summer is still here and you—hopefully—have some free time, make the essential appointments your child needs to help make sure they stay healthy and happy.
The Importance of Back-to-School Checkups
Back-to-School Checkups: Medical Wellness
As a parent, you know the importance of regular checkups at the pediatrician’s office. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many children missed these important appointments, as well as recommended childhood vaccinations, over the past few years.
The agency, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), recommends children catch up on routine childhood vaccinations and get back on track for school and childcare.
A well-child visit is important for many reasons, the CDC says, including:
- Tracking growth and developmental milestones
- Discussing any concerns about your child’s health
- Getting scheduled vaccinations to prevent illnesses like measles and whooping cough (pertussis) and other serious diseases
Back-to-school Checkups: A World About Nutrition
We all know how important good nutrition is for healthy development, so some parents might also want to consider prioritizing gut health before school starts. Preemptively seeing a gut health specialist might not be on every parent’s back-to-school check list, but as kids head into the classroom, their gut health can be impacted by various factors like stress, changes in routine, dietary choices and exposure to new environments.
“Nutrition provides the body with what it needs to grow, regulate stress and anxiety, focus, and so much more,” Rajesh Dhirmalani, DO, a gastroenterologist, explained. “A properly aligned system allows for energy and mental clarity.”
To help you prepare for your wellness appointments, check out these questions to ask your child’s pediatrician.
Back-to-School Checkups: Dental
Dental and oral health is important at any age, of course. And it’s always the right time of year to schedule a checkup and cleaning for your child. Experts say kids who start seeing the dentist at an early age are less likely to develop cavities, tooth decay, and other conditions that can lead to more serious health issues.
It’s especially important to book your child’s dental checkup as soon as possible, because when school starts, appointments can book up fast. In order to get your preferred appointment date and time, Joseph Albanese, DMD, whose office is on Staten Island, recommends scheduling your appointments as soon as possible.
“The summer is a great time for a check-up because it’s in that downtime before the craziness of school starts,” Albanese said. “At Marine Dental, we suggest parents make their follow-up appointments before they leave their current appointments so it’s on the calendar and something to look forward to. It also helps children become more familiar with the dental office.”
Allison Jang, DDS, practices at Omni Dental in Chelmsford, MA. She, too, recommends a dental appointment for kids before school starts.
“It’s always smart to have a dental exam before starting a new school year – first to get a good, thorough cleaning and to be reminded about the benefits of brushing and flossing, and second to make sure no dental issues need to be addressed,” Jang explained. “For example, if a cavity is developing, or an x-ray discovers a cracked tooth or infection, this can be treated without needing to take time out of class.”
Many dentists also recommend semi-annual dental checkups for both kids and adults.
“Especially in kids, there can be so much change throughout any given year that staying on track with six-month cleanings and comprehensive exams helps us identify any issues before they can negatively impact a child,” Albanese said.
NYC Health and Hospitals Adds New Dental Services
In local pediatric dental news, NYC Health and Hospitals added dental hygiene services to pediatric practices this year to boost oral health in its youngest patients.
The municipal healthcare system now offers preventive dental hygiene services at its pediatric practices within its 11 public hospitals. As part of the care, dental hygienists perform assessments, provide oral hygiene education, and apply a dental treatment called fluoride varnish that can help prevent tooth decay, slow it down or stop it from getting worse.
“Establishing good habits with children at an early age, with primary teeth, sets the correct course for good oral health throughout life,” NYC Health and Hospitals/Jacobi | North Central Bronx Chair of Dentistry and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Victor Badner, DMD, MPH, said.
To make an appointment at one of the hospitals, call 844-NYC-4NYC.
Back-to-school Checkups: Eye Care
Another appointment that’s important to make when it comes to back-to-school checkups is an eye exam, especially since kids might not always notice or report changes in their vision. And even at a young age, impaired vision can lead to eye strain, chronic headaches and other ailments.
Clark Chang, OD, MSA, is the director of global medical affairs at Glaukos, an ophthalmic medical tech and pharmaceutical company. He recommends scheduling a routine eye exam for school-age children and teens as they head into back-to-school season.
“As we soon head into the back-to-school season, scheduling a routine eye exam for school-aged children and teens is essential,” Chang said. “Adolescence in particular kicks off a number of changes to the body, including the eyes. An eye exam can identify newly developed nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, eye teaming issues and more that may require eyeglasses, contact lenses or vision therapy to help kids better process their learning experiences in the classroom. Eye exams can also catch the early signs of more serious and lesser-known eye conditions, like keratoconus (KC).”
According to the CDC, if your child has a vision problem, they may have trouble recognizing letters and written words, which can affect their school performance. Some studies have found improvements in learning, testing, class participation, behavior and self-confidence after an eye exam and treatment.
Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you need help finding an eye doctor or are concerned about your child’s vision.
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