5 Tips to Maintain Good Oral Hygiene for Back-to-School
by Dr Richard Barry
As a new school year approaches, you may suddenly feel rushed and anxious, trying to prepare without missing anything important. In addition to compiling necessary school supplies and adjusting schedules, you will also want to make sure your child develops and maintains good oral hygiene to help avoid surprises later on.
The days and weeks before the new school year arrives is the perfect time to prepare and implement practices to ensure your child’s dental health is at its best and remains that way throughout. Here are five tips to help.
1. Establish a Dental Routine
A lax in dental routines can happen during the summer, and you can use the start of the new school year as a reason to establish a better one going forward. Let your children practice, including brushing twice daily and flossing at least once. The more they do this, the more the routine will become a habit, and you won’t have to constantly remind them.
You can also attach the dental routine to other tasks your child follows each day. For instance, have them brush their teeth after they get dressed for school each morning or after changing into pajamas at night.
Be sure to always keep supplies on hand, such as their favorite toothbrushes or toothpastes. Take your child with you to buy the supplies and let them choose a favorite-colored toothbrush or one with their favorite character.
2. Make Dental Care More Fun
Children have a lot going on today. Friends, homework, sports, playing games, and more fill their schedules daily.
Dental health, then, is most likely not in their top 10 list of fun things to do. Yet, there are ways you can encourage them, especially if they are younger, and make dental care more fun.
Consider ways that your child will enjoy. This may be giving them stickers each time they brush or other such small reward that they cherish.
You also have an abundance of choices when it comes to toothbrushes today. Some light up or play music as your child brushes. This music and lighting can continue for two minutes, ensuring the child brushes for that allotted time. There are also digital toothbrushes, with some including games to keep children engaged longer. Another option is to buy a fun timer to set each time they begin brushing.
3. Schedule Dental Visits
With such a wide variety of things going on during the school year, it’s easy to forget about scheduling regular dental exams and cleanings. Mark your own calendar before the chaos of back-to-school arrives, and call your dentist to schedule these appointments in advance.
A pre-back-to-school cleaning and exam can ensure your child starts out with no dental issues that can cause problems and possibly lead to unexpected absences. Set up the next appointment as well, usually in six months, so you won’t have to rush to make it when the time arrives.
Your dentist may also recommend your child receive fluoride treatments or sealants to protect teeth. A fluoride treatment involves your dentist applying fluoride, usually in gel form, to help protect against cavities. A sealant serves to seal any dips or grooves in teeth, preventing the build-up of decay that can lead to cavities and even gum disease.
Another discussion to have with your dentist during your initial appointment is to ask about mouthguards. This will particularly be important if your child plays any type of sport.
4. Promote Healthy Eating and Avoid or Limit Sugar
Back-to-school lunches and snacks require planning and preparation. To help ensure your child’s teeth remain healthy, try to promote healthy eating and, as much as possible, avoid or limit sugar intake.
Consuming too much sugar can damage teeth, leading to cavities and encroaching tooth decay as well as gum disease.
Limit amounts of candy and other sweets your child consumes throughout the day. Also, avoid giving them too many juices as these often contain a high amount of sugar. If these juices are important to your child, limit them to just 4-6 ounces per day.
Ideas to include in lunches or serve as snacks include:
Fresh fruits, such as apple slices
Fresh vegetables, like carrot sticks
Try sitting your child down and discussing what healthy eating is and why it is important. Involve them when planning and preparing their own healthy lunches and snacks.
5. Encourage More Drinking of Water
Drinking water not only keeps your child hydrated, but it can also help to remove any lingering bacteria in the mouth or build-up of plaque on teeth.
Let your child pick out a refillable water bottle to take with them to school and encourage them to drink more of it throughout the day. You can also include fresh fruits, such as strawberries, to freshen the water and provide a different taste every so often if needed.
Contact Lifetime Dental Health for Back-to-School Care
Before the new school year arrives, contact the team at Lifetime Dental Health to schedule all your child’s dental needs. An initial examination and cleaning can start your child off on a positive note, and regularly scheduled appointments can help them stay there. Call our office today to get started.