Schedule an Appointment (800) 579-3783

Getting Your Smile Ready for School

Starting up a new school year can be exciting for kids, and a welcome relief for parents.

You’re prepared. You’ve dusted off the old back pack (or purchased a new one), picked up a few school supplies, shopped for a new outfit or two, and shared in the anticipation with your child about the coming year. If you still don’t think you’re 100% ready, here are items you’ll want to check off your list:


Connect with other parents. If you haven’t already done so, find out who’s in your child’s class this year. Get the skinny on the new teacher. Arrange a school carpool. It will clear up the unknowns, and those contacts will be a big help throughout the year.


Establish a routine. That includes bedtime. If your kids have been staying up late every night in the summer, it will be tough getting to sleep the night before school starts. Try an hour of quiet time before bed – without electronics or cell phone use – or quiet reading to wind down. Lay out clothes the night before, have breakfast planned and ready to go (simple, but nutritious, is best for time-strapped parents), so that the kids will be ready for carpool or the bus.  Have a nutritious snack ready when your child gets home. And make homework a priority – with limits on video games and television viewing.


Get the kids checked out.  Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease — five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever in 5- to 17-year-olds, according to the California Health Care Foundation. Make a dental appointment for an exam (it’s covered by most insurance plans, along with two cleanings per year.) And, if your child plays sports, they will most likely be required to have a physical exam before the first practice. Most schools require up-to-date immunizations, and you may be asked to provide paperwork showing that your child has all the necessary shots and vaccines.


Be proactive about protection. Speaking of sports, football and soccer season is a great way to let off steam, as long as it’s safe. Mouthguards, or mouth protectors, are a must for contact sports and should be a part of your child’s standard athletic equipment from an early age. (They make sense for non-contact sports as well, like gymnastics and skating.) Mouthguards help prevent injuries, including the loss of teeth, and can be purchased at the drugstore or sporting goods store, or at the dentist office. Your dentist can recommend the best option for you.


Meal prep for school.  Performing well in school is harder when you’re hungry. Make sure your child has a healthy breakfast and that you have a plan for lunch, including meal tickets or lunch money. (Many children qualify for free or reduced price on food at school, including breakfast. Check with your school office.) If a cafeteria lunch isn’t an option for your child, pack a nutritious meal for them. Include healthy items like cheese sticks, celery and fruit, and avoid sugary foods.


Back to school time can be hectic for everyone, but with a little organization you’ll all settle into a rhythm that will feel natural in no time.


Expanded Medi-Cal Benefits Improve Lives of Many California Dental Patients
By John Luther, DDS, Chief Dental Officer Dental care benefits under Medi-Cal – and the over 13 million Californians who depend on them – took a big hit in 2009. State budget constraints caused by the onslaught of the Great Recession resulted in deep cuts to state services, including basic dental care under the Medi-Cal program. Eight years later, as the economy slowly recovered, California lawmakers passed a bill that fully reinstated those reduced benefits, providing improved dental care services not previously included as covered benefits under Medi-Cal. The changes took effect January 1, 2018. The Medi-Cal Dental enhancements are substantial. Patients are now covered for procedures like scaling & root planing (SRPs or “deep cleaning”), treatment vital to the management and prevention of gum disease in high risk patients. Root canals on back teeth, instead of extractions, are now a possibility for many. Partial dentures are an option for denture patients. And many other services – exams, x-rays and fillings – are now included. This is good news. For example: It means that, if clinically appropriate, a denture patient doesn’t need a full mouth extraction to receive dentures – previously the only option under Medi-Cal – because partial dentures, which require fewer, if any, extractions, are now covered. Partial dentures not only provide significantly better performance and comfort than full dentures, but they also save existing teeth, help maintain bone and a provide a better quality of life. A patient requiring a root canal on a back molar is now covered for that procedure, saving the tooth and preserving bone and the overall health of the patient. Under previous Medi-Cal coverage, the patient’s only option was extraction. Scaling & root planing, now covered, is critical in controlling gum disease. Untreated gum disease makes it harder to control diabetes and is linked to other diseases such as heart disease, respiratory diseases, and even cancer. It’s been gratifying to see significantly more patients now enjoying this enhanced quality of dental care coverage. At the 191 Western Dental offices in California, we’ve seen an increase of 20% in Medi-Cal Dental patient visits since the beginning of the year. Being the largest provider of Medi-Cal Dental services in the state, we’re geared up to meet this pent-up demand. Our doctors and staff have been preparing for months in anticipation of the influx, and we expect to see a continued flow of new and returning patients as more patients with Medi-Cal Dental learn of their enhanced benefits.
How to Get the Most from Your Dental Plan
  Going to the dentist is probably the last thing on your mind this holiday season. But while you’re making your to-do list, you might add “make dentist appointment” because December is an ideal time for a visit. Kids are out of school for their holiday break, appointment slots are available, and for many of us, dental plan benefits expire at the end of the year.  That makes getting in to see the dentist a higher priority this month.   If you’re in the middle of dental treatment, it can be important to make that next visit. For example, as patients receiving a dental implant know, there are several steps to receiving your implant. If your last appointment was for bone restoration a few months ago, you may be ready for placement of the implant. Or the doctor may have your permanent crown ready to replace that temporary crown you received a few weeks ago.   Scheduling a cleaning with the hygienist is wise every six months, and more often if you had periodontal care on your last visit. Coming in for an appointment now to continue treatment you’ve started means you can use up deductibles and maximize your plan’s benefits this year.   You may also want to start needed treatment with any remaining benefits you may have this year, and then pick up where you left off with fresh new benefits in January. Many people split care over two year’s benefits this way for best coverage.   Don’t neglect your oral health altogether this holiday season. Squeeze in an hour of your day to see your dentist just one more time before year end.  You’ll know you’re getting the most out of your dental plan, and you’ll feel good about starting off the New Year with a fresh new smile!