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Add to the Summer Checklist: Back to School Appointments

Posted on June 1, 2018 in Health


Kids playing

As the school year winds down and kids are dreaming about their summer bucket list of swimming pools, baseball and fireworks, parents are shifting gears to summer planning. Delta Dental of Iowa reminds parents that while you are filling out summer camp paperwork and trying to find a break in the master schedule for a few days of vacation, it’s the perfect time to call your health care providers and schedule your child’s back to school visits.

We love the long days that summer brings, but the weeks can fly by and suddenly you are sending the kids back to school. As your kids enter the next phase of their education, you might not realize that there are several grade-based requirements for Iowa public schools including dental, vision and physical screenings, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH).

Dental screening requirements

Children entering Kindergarten and ninth grade are required to have a dental screening. The Iowa Department of Public Health Certificate of Dental Screening form must be completed and signed. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), tooth decay is the single most common infectious disease affecting U.S. children. These preventive checks help with early identification of dental health and other overall health issues. A back to school appointment with your dentist is a great time to apply dental sealants, check for decay and other diseases, and to reinforce good oral health habits with your child. If your child is active in contact sports, ask your dentist about custom-fitted mouth guards.

Vision screening requirements

As kids grow, we see the physical changes in height and weight, but it’s also important to realize that their vision may be changing. The Iowa Department of Public Health requires that children attending public and accredited nonpublic elementary schools have a vision screening at least once before Kindergarten and again before third grade. The IDPH Certificate of Vision Screening lists the timeline for valid screening.

Wellness check-ups

Taking your child to see your family physician for an annual wellness exam is a good use of time and resources, but most insurance plans including Medicaid cover these visits at no cost. A comprehensive health screening assesses a child’s overall health including growth patterns, updating immunizations, and nutritional and safety assessments. This is a good time to ask questions, chart progress and discuss changes your child may encounter in the upcoming year. Additionally, Iowa schools require any students in grades 7 – 12 participating in sports to have an annual pre-participation physical examination.  

Tips for scheduling appointments

  • Take the time to review your dental, vision and medical insurance benefits to take advantage of preventive checkups. 
  • Schedule appointments with each provider for a time when you’re not in a rush and everyone is well rested.
  • Consider making your dental, vision and wellness appointments together as a family. Children will model what their parents are doing. You could also have an older child go first to model behavior for the younger ones to follow.

“When we think of summer scheduling, it’s important to coordinate back to school appointments as well,” said Dr. Jeff Chaffin, vice president and dental director for Delta Dental of Iowa. “Preventive health checkups can help families identify concerns and prepare – both mentally and financially – for any upcoming procedures like wisdom tooth removal, braces, glasses or surgical procedures.”

So while the kids are making summer bucket lists for fun, parents are encouraged to remember to add dental, vision and wellness appointments to the summer schedule. For more information on children’s health care, visit Delta Dental of Iowa’s website.