You spend extra time in the morning making sure your child’s backpack, coat, and a healthy lunch are packed. You volunteer to help with class field trips. You attend parent teacher conferences, and even get your child a tutor to make sure he/she is keeping up with all of his/her work.

You do all of this to set your child up to thrive in school.

Now, your child’s school nurse calls you—your child has tooth pain and she is asking you when he/she last saw a pediatric dentist. Uh-oh. When was the last time you brought your child to see the dentist, anyway? Do you even have a dentist?

As a school nurse, I can tell you why you need to add “Get a pediatric dentist” to your school success checklist.

1. Tooth Pain

In my school clinic, tooth pain is the most common complaint that prompts a referral to a pediatric dentist. Sometimes a student will present with a toothache that won’t subside. Sometimes, it’s a sudden sensitivity to something cold eaten at lunch.

Tooth pain and sensitivity in children are usually signs of a more serious underlying issue, like cavities.

When this kind of complaint crops up, I usually place a call to the child’s parents and ask about recent dental care. Some parents can call and get their child seen immediately at their dentist’s office. Others aren’t sure where to start because they don’t have a dentist that they see regularly.

When this happens, I can recommend local dentists, or suggest they start their own search. I always highly recommend finding a pediatric dentist who is board-certified.

Kids can’t focus in school when they are in pain. Preventative dental care is the best way to keep tooth pain and cavities from happening in the first place.

2. Tooth Injuries and Emergencies

A crying student is rushed into my office. She fell on the playground and her mouth is bleeding. I find that her tooth has been knocked out – a permanent tooth. This is a dental emergency.

A dental emergency is not the time that you want to be searching for a dentist.

Many people do not realize that most emergency room staff do not specialize in teeth. As long as there is not a serious medical condition (like a concussion) that accompanies the knocked-out tooth, a dentist office is the best place to take your child immediately.

The best chance to save a tooth is within in the first 30-60 minutes, and a pediatric dentist is the person best equipped to do that.

3. Healthy Habits

We expect health education to be integrated into our child’s classroom curriculum. And it is! From PE class to health fairs to physical activity at recess, schools work hard to instill healthy habits in their students.

This learning should extend into the home. When children see their parents making time to go for a walk or cook healthy dinners, they are learning that taking care of their bodies and minds is important.

Dental care is an important aspect of healthy living (did you know that bad dental habits can even be bad for your heart?). Parents who make regular dental visits a priority are teaching their children that caring for their teeth is important. A pediatric dentist can also show your children the best way to care for their teeth, a skill they will take with them into adulthood.

Hurst Pediatric Dentistry

Don’t be caught off guard when your child runs into a dental issue! Dr. Lin and the staff at Hurst Pediatric Dentistry are committed to providing the best dental care for their patients. Speak with their office about becoming a patient.

Guest Author: Caroline Townsend, BSN RN

Caroline is a pediatric RN and freelance medical writer. Parenting and healthy living are her passion. When she’s not working, you can find her chasing after her two toddlers, re-heated coffee forgotten in the microwave (again).