The beginning of a new school year can get crazy, as your lazy summer mornings turn into mad dashes to the bus stop. In the hustle and bustle of back to school days, healthy mouth habits can fall by the wayside. It’s easy to forget to brush your teeth in the morning, reach for a handful of sugary snacks, or forego your daily allotment of H20.
But, what you may not realize is that poor oral hygiene habits can have a major impact on children’s school performance and happiness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 19% of kids age 3 to 12 have undiagnosed tooth decay. Even worse? Untreated tooth issues can cause a great deal of unnecessary pain, distracting kids from school work and even resulting in missed classes. In addition to regular examinations and brushing 2-3 times a day, here are 8 tips to help kids score an A+ in oral hygiene this school year!
1. Brush at Least Three Times a Day
Ideally, kids should brush their teeth 2-3 times per day – morning, night and another convenient time in the middle of the day. Instead of having kids brush their teeth at school, have them brush when they get home or right before dinner. If they eat sugary snacks throughout the day, however, it’s best to have them brush at school or eat an apple for lunch, which has similar effects to brushing. Be sure to check with your school to see if they even allow brushing or flossing. Crazy we know, but some schools don’t allow this!
2. Create a Dental Kit
If your child is allowed to brush or floss their teeth at school, consider packing a dental kit. All you need is a Ziploc bag, toothbrush, mini toothpaste, and some dental floss. Even better, put the kit in their lunchbox so it’s an easy reminder after lunch to brush and floss! We also have pre-assembled versions available for purchase here.
3. Pack a Healthy Lunch and Snacks
Eating sweets and consuming sugary drinks are some of the main culprits of child tooth decay. School lunches are often full of processed and high sugar foods. Can you spell, C-A-V-I-T-I-E-S?! A packed lunch allows you to include more healthy options that are good for your kiddo’s teeth, as well as their overall well-being. And, many of these healthy foods, including raw carrots, apples, and celery, have the power to naturally clean teeth. So if your kids don’t have time to brush, tell them to save their carrot sticks for last!
4. Plan Your Meals and Snacks Wisely
Ever hear the saying “snack and sip all day, risk decay?” Well, it’s true! Constantly bathing your teeth in sweetened beverages and unhealthy snacks creates acids that can destroy your enamel. If you can’t do without the sugary foods and drinks, enjoy your splurge during a regular meal and not as a separate snack. Why is this beneficial? Because saliva production increases during meals and helps neutralize acid production. So, in this case, timing really is everything.
5. Bring on the H20
Consuming fluoridated water can help prevent up to 40% of tooth decay. Most public water supplies have added fluoride – water fountains, tap water, etc. If you prefer bottled water, check the label for its fluoride content. Drinking water with fluoride is the easiest and most effective way to fight tooth decay because of its ability to wash away sugars and food particles from your teeth.
6. Use Protective Mouth Guards for Sports
One of the most common sports injuries is damaged teeth. The good news is there is a simple way to ensure a child’s smile is protected – sports mouth guards! Mouth guards create a barrier between the upper and lower teeth to prevent them from crashing and breaking during impact. It also protects teeth from those stray pucks, balls, and sticks! With the possibility of costly dental bills, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
7. Splurge on Sugarless Gum
While brushing for two minutes twice a day is still the best way to prevent cavities, chewing gum in between meals has been shown to help decrease the number of treatments a child will require at the dentist. Chewing sugar-free gum for a few minutes in between lunch and afternoon classes can help stimulate saliva and provide a buffer against the acid from many foods. It can also help dislodge pesky food particles that decided to stick around. If your school doesn’t allow students to chew gum, xylitol mints are another good option.
8. Stock Up on New Toothbrushes
While you’re purchasing new school supplies like pencils, lunch boxes, and notebooks, why not pick out a new toothbrush? The American Dental Association recommends that you replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months. Let your child pick out a toothbrush that matches their unique personality, and they will be much more likely to brush on a regular basis.
Good habits start with education. So along with learning to dot their I’s and cross their T’s this school year, teach your kiddos the significance of good oral hygiene by sharing these 8 tips. A healthy and cavity free child is a happy and confident child. We wish all students and parents a wonderful, healthy, and successful 2017-2018 school year!
What tips do you have for a smile-filled school year? Please share in the comments below!