FEATURE – It’s that time of year again. You walk into a store and see a colorful display of notebooks, backpacks, lunch boxes, colored pencils and endless rows of kids’ clothing. Back-to-school time is back.
Aside from school supplies, an important part of back-to-school planning is making sure that your child is up to date on their vision and dental exams. Here are a few tips from SouthWest Vision and Children’s Dental to help ensure your kids have bright eyes and beautiful smiles on their first day in class.
Vision health tips
- How old does my child have to be to start wearing contacts?
As soon as your child demonstrates the responsibility to clean, maintain and handle contacts properly, they are ready. Sometimes kids are highly motivated because of friends or sports activities and are willing to take the time to work with contacts.
- When should my child have their first eye exam?
We recommend that a child take their first exam between 6 and 12 months of age, then every other year after that as a general rule of thumb.
- How often should my child return to the eye doctor?
Vision development happens early, so detecting threats to eye health during a child’s first months and years can eliminate many problems later. Some problems are difficult, if not impossible, to fix as the child matures and leaves the developmental stage behind. The sooner, the better.
- How can I protect my child’s eyes?
It’s sunny outside, and children need the comfort and protection of quality sunglasses even more than adults. Children’s eyes are more vulnerable to ultraviolet-related ocular damage, as they receive three times the annual exposure to UV rays than the average adult. Buy your child quality sunglasses to help ensure lifelong optical health.
Dental health tips
- Dental disease impacts a child’s ability to learn, speak properly and develop self-esteem.
- Across the United States, students lose 51 million school hours annually due to dental problems.
- Make oral hygiene fun by starting off the new school year with new toothbrushes.
- Children need help brushing their teeth until they are old enough to tie their own shoelaces, which is usually around age 8. Brushing should last for two minutes. Flossing should start when two or more teeth are too close together for a toothbrush to clean between them.
- Using a power toothbrush can make it easier for a child to transition from having a parent supervise their brushing to brushing independently. Some power brushes also make it easier for a child to brush effectively.
- Replace your child’s toothbrush every three months or after your child has a cold, strep throat or other infectious illness.
- Make sure your child spits out the toothpaste after brushing, but do not have your child rinse with water. The toothpaste that stays in your child’s mouth is good for their teeth.
- Your child should be able to floss their teeth without supervision by age 10.
Written by SouthWest Vision and Children’s Dental for St. George Health and Wellness magazine and St. George News.