School is starting and the back-to-school season promises a whirlwind of activities on the horizon. Your child will spend a good chunk of their time away from home between classes, sports and other extracurricular activities on top of homework! Your child will have a lot on their mind, and our goal is to help you help them maintain strong oral hygiene habits along the way.
Since this busy time of year demands so much from your child, we have some simple, effective tips to help them prioritize their oral health when they are so busy. Make sure they commit to brushing and flossing every day no matter what. Preventing cavities should be a priority because they are the number one reason that kids miss school. To keep them from missing time in the classroom, help them keep up the good oral hygiene work at home.
Consistent Morning Brushing
Get them up early enough to clean their teeth every morning before they leave. Rolling out of bed, hitting up the bathroom, and tackling the bacteria and germs that built up overnight while they slept are crucial.
Bonus: This also means better breath when they spend their day among their peers.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends brushing twice a day for two minutes to clear out bad bacteria from their teeth, keeping cavities away. Make sure your child knows how to clean all areas of their teeth; the front, top, and back. Children under age 7 or 8 often can’t brush their teeth well so you will likely need to help them with brushing until they can do it properly themselves. Make sure your child’s toothpaste has fluoride in it as it works wonders at keeping tooth decay away. The AAPD encourages children to use fluoride toothpaste as soon as their first baby tooth comes in!
After your child brushes their teeth, they need to rinse their toothbrush well with water to wash away whatever debris is left on the bristles and keep it in an upright position to air dry. This is how to keep bacteria and germs from growing like they tend to do in closed, dark spaces. Once their toothbrush bristles start to fray, they should be replaced to clean properly. Bonus: Manual toothbrushes work wonderfully, but if your child balks at brushing their teeth, switching to a sonic toothbrush can make brushing their teeth easy, efficient and fun!
Tooth-Friendly School Lunches
Sending your child off with a packed lunch is a great way to monitor what they consume when they’re away from home. Sugar and starches feed the oral bacteria that harm teeth by creating cavities. Instead, offer bacteria-fighting foods like carrots, celery, and apples that require extra chewing (scrubbing their teeth). Pack cut-up strawberries, oranges and red peppers rich in vitamin C to support healthy gums. Soups and sandwiches with turkey, chicken, beef or ham provide vital proteins that also support tooth enamel. Did you know that your child’s body stores 99% of its calcium in their bones and teeth? Provide calcium-rich foods like cheese, yogurt, milk and almonds in their backpack as well!
More Water, Please
A water bottle is always a good source of hydration without the sugar and preservatives laden with fruit juices, sodas, and sports drinks. Water is also the best way to boost your child’s normal saliva production which actively protects against tooth decay and cavities. Water bottles are an easy way to keep their tooth enamel strong and stay cavity-free while preventing dry mouth (and bad breath).
Flossing Before Bedtime
Since toothbrushes don’t clean all of a tooth’s surfaces (between teeth and around the gum line), daily flossing finishes the job your toothbrush can’t do by scrubbing those hard-to-clean areas. Flossing is ideally done at the end of the day to remove stray food particles before your child goes to bed. This keeps their mouth from harboring harmful bacteria that lead to plaque buildup and cavities while they sleep.
Get your child’s smile ready for the new school by making sure they are brushing (and flossing) every single day like clockwork. Schedule their routine dental cleanings and exams, and if your child needs some extra help protecting their chompers, talk to our dentist at their next checkup about fluoride treatments and dental sealants. We love helping your child’s smile thrive!