As a new school season approaches, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reminding parents and caregivers that August is a good time to schedule dental exams for children. IDPH also will be facilitating free dental screenings during weekdays at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield from August 9-19.
Illinois law requires schoolchildren entering Kindergarten, 2nd and 6th grades to have a dental examination prior to the start of the school year – although yearly dental exams are encouraged for all schoolchildren.
“During my recent statewide tour, access to oral health was a primary concern in many communities.” said IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “Healthy teeth are an important part of overall health and we want every child in Illinois to have a healthy start to the new school year.”
Studies indicate that one of the major reasons for school absences is dental neglect. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, 51 million school hours are lost because of dental problems, and tooth decay is still the major cause of tooth loss in children. Almost half of children have cavities in baby teeth by the time they are seven years old.
“It is as important to keep baby teeth as clean, healthy and cavity-free as adult teeth. If primary teeth, or ‘baby teeth’ are lost too soon to cavities, it can cause problems when it’s time for permanent teeth to move into the mouth,” said Dr. David Miller, IDPH chief of the Division of Oral Health. “Dental cavities are preventable. However, cavities left untreated can cause infections that can spread to the rest of the body and be life threatening.”
Free dental screenings will be conducted by volunteer oral health professionals in the Department’s Wellness on Wheels mobile health van from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. during weekdays at the Illinois State Fair. The Wellness on Wheels van will be located in Happy Hollow, adjacent to the Illinois Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, 801 Sangamon Ave., Springfield.
Proof of School Dental Examination Forms, as well as Dental Examination Waiver Forms can be found on the IDPH website at HYPERLINK "http://www.idph.state.il.us/"http://www.idph.state.il.us/ under “Oral Health” or call the IDPH Division of Oral Health at 217-782-4977.