4 great ways to make going back to school a good time for healthy teeth
We love a good routine, none more so than a good daily routine for taking care of your teeth!
We get it, though. The summer school holidays are often the least ‘routine’ part of your year. After all, everyone needs a break and part of that might be later bedtimes and sleep-ins, resulting in eating meals and snacking at different times of the day.
It can be a real shock to the system for kids to have to go back to an earlier, non-negotiable bedtime and have to get themselves up and going each morning when school returns. Not to mention the added stress of dealing with new teachers, new classmates, new subjects, and perhaps greater responsibility.
Even with all that to deal with – or perhaps because there is all that going on – back-to-school time is a really important time to reinforce good oral health practices and habits.
- Remind your kids that brushing is a must (and guide them on how to do it well)
Maybe the morning brushing was missed a few times over the holidays, whether due to a sleep-in or the rush to get to some activity. It’s also not out of the realms of possibility that exhausted kids fell straight into bed after a big day out without the nighttime brushing.
Now’s the time to make it clear that brushing at least morning and night is an absolute must.
Here are the things you should be 100 per cent clear on yourself and be able to outline and reinforce (as often as necessary) to your kids:
- Brushing twice a day reduces the risk of tooth decay much more than brushing only once a day.
- Brushing and flossing before bedtime is especially important. Brush and floss your teeth with your child so they can watch and imitate you.
- Spend two minutes brushing teeth, focusing on the teeth that do most of the chewing, and back teeth, where cavities often first develop.
- Use gentle, short strokes over the fronts, backs, and tops of your teeth, and don’t scrub hard along the gum line.
- Make sure your kids have their own age-appropriate brushes and toothpaste.
- Supervise your child’s brushing and flossing until good habits are established.
- Give your children lots of praise when they do a good job.
- Encourage healthier snacking with healthier lunchbox options
It’s an unfortunate fact of modern life that kids eat sugary snacks and drink sugar-laden drinks (as do adults). We have to accept that sugar is a part of life, but we can also do our best to manage our kids’ sugar consumption and reduce its impact on teeth.
- Encourage children to drink more (fluoridated) tap water. Let your child choose a water bottle that they really like, as that will make them more likely to remember to carry it and use it.
- Keep sugary drinks – including fruit juice – to a minimum (this is the most insidious way kids end up consuming too much sugar because we’re not as conscious of the sugar in drinks).
- Pack their lunchboxes with fruits, vegetables, cheese, and whole grain foods. Some other healthy lunchbox options that are better for teeth include pasta salad, ham and cheese rollups, handrolls or rice paper rolls, noodles, frittatas, quiches, and tarts.
- If you have the time and inclination to prepare a variety of items, here’s some inspiration from Taste.com.au with 40 school snack recipe ideas that actually made our mouths water!
- Whenever possible, save sweet treats for after meals when the amount of saliva produced in the mouth is greater and will therefore better help protect your child’s teeth.
- Because dairy acts as a buffer to the acids produced by oral bacteria, try serving your children milk or cheese with sweet treats.
- Get your child a properly fitted mouthguard
If your child is going to play sport of any sort – even if it’s theoretically a non-contact sport – you should get them fitted with a custom mouthguard that’s comfortable and effective.
Keep in mind that no matter how athletic or agile your child might be, there’s every chance they’ll be playing with and against kids who are a bit more unpredictable in their movements and body control, so collisions are inevitable.
A good mouthguard doesn’t move, doesn’t cause any discomfort, doesn’t impact normal breathing, and allows you to talk easily when it’s in place. It’s also made of the right material.
We went into a lot more detail just a couple of months ago in Why you should wear a mouthguard to play sport, so if you haven’t read that, you’ll find al the information you need.
- Book a visit to the dentist
Coming to see the friendly team here at Middleborough Dental Care is about more than just checking your child’s oral health (important though that is).
Your dentist plays a vital part in helping your children learn how to look after their teeth properly. Most kids will pay closer attention to, and therefore better retain a message from, a professional in the field in a clinical setting than from their parents, who tell them so many different things every day.
Here are a couple of hints about managing your regular check-ups:
- Try to make appointments at times when your child won’t be tired, so they are more likely to feel good about the visit and more likely to take in what the dentist says.
- Don’t make too big a deal of going to the dentist. It’s best if kids accept that it’s simply a normal part of everyone’s oral health regimen.
- Keep it positive. Kids don’t need to know we’re looking for cavities and other potential issues. As far as they’re concerned, we’re helping them look after their teeth properly, something everyone wants to do.
At Middleborough Dental Care, we’ve got extensive experience and a well-developed appreciation for how to help kids understand their teeth and learn the best oral care habits.
Even with a great daily care routine, regular visits to the dentist are the only way to make sure your child’s teeth are well cared for … so we’ll see you soon!