Back-To-School Tips for a Healthy Smile
Whether you are the parent who’s dancing in the streets or the one who lingers at the school gates, there’s no denying that back-to-school is a hectic and exciting time of year. It is also the time where things like regularly scheduled dentist appointments and good brushing and flossing habits can fall by the wayside. Here are a few tips to make sure that your kiddo’s dental health doesn’t suffer during this fall as they head back to class.
Keep Up with That Routine
One of the most important ways to make sure that your child’s smile stays healthy and bright is to make time for brushing and flossing, both in the morning and at night. Even if it means getting your kid up a few minutes earlier in the morning or starting their bedtime routine a few minutes sooner at night, keeping that dental routine part of their day is vital for their oral health. Consistency with brushing and flossing even during the most hectic of times will help your kiddo establish good lifelong oral health care habits. And if your child balks at waking up a bit earlier or starting their bedtime routine sooner, you can always entice them with a reward chart! Making brushing and flossing fun is never a bad idea.
Healthy Snack & Lunch Options
It might be tempting to fill your child’s lunch with convenient prepackaged treats like gummy bears and cookies, but that’s not the best choice for their dental health (or overall health for that matter!) If your kid is in elementary school, chances are that you are still packing their lunch for them, so make sure to fill their lunch box with healthy and yummy foods. Remember, elementary-aged kids are growing fast and need nutrients to support strong teeth and healthy gums. Fruit, cheese and almonds are much better (and still tasty!) options than sugary, sticky or starchy snacks that can stick to teeth and lead to cavities. Vegetables like cucumbers, carrots and celery are also fantastic choices. You can even pair them with a dip for even more tooth-friendly deliciousness.
If your child is in middle or high school, it is still important to emphasize the importance of healthy eating habits. Even if they’re in charge of packing their own lunch, you can encourage healthy choices by having plenty of healthy options available for them to choose from.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
In many parts of the country, kids head back to school while the weather is still downright hot. Always make sure that your child has plenty of water available throughout the school day, while playing with friends after school and during sports practices. If possible, have your child carry a water bottle to ensure they keep hydrated and rinse away debris and bacteria throughout the day.
Always remember that plain, old water is the best way to keep your kiddo hydrated. Sports drinks and fruit juices contain a lot of added sugar which can lead to tooth decay. Soda is also a big no-no – the acid in soda can break down the enamel on teeth, which can lead to sensitivity, and ultimately, decay.
Back to School with Braces
It is not uncommon, especially among the preteen set, for kids to return to school in the fall with braces. Keeping up with dental care is even more important if your kiddo has braces. Putting a small bag with a travel toothbrush, travel-sized toothpaste, dental floss and dental wax in their backpack will ensure that your child is prepared if they get food stuck in their braces or if a wire starts to bother them during the school day.
Also, remind your kiddo what foods are a no-go if they have braces – popcorn, gummies and hard candy for example. And if your child plays sports, invest in a mouth guard for extra protection from sports-related dental injuries. This is a good idea even if your kiddo doesn’t have braces!
Keep Up with Check-ups
Even though the beginning of the school year is a whirlwind of activity, it is vital to your child’s oral health that you bring them in to see their pediatric dentist every six months for a cleaning an exam. You may be tempted to cancel or push back an appointment during this busy time of year, but it really isn’t a good idea. Regular preventative appointments are the key to keeping your kid’s smile strong and healthy. When your pediatric dentist sees your child regularly, they can identify issues early to prevent bigger problems in the future.