Fall is upon us, the kids are heading back to class or college, and the summer fun will soon be a distant memory. You’ve checked that the kids have all of the supplies they need for the book-work, but don’t forget to make sure they have everything they need for a healthy smile to last them through many seasons to come!
5 Dental Health Tips for a Successful School Year
1. Mouthguards – Get the Right Gear to Protect That Smile
The fall sports season is starting, and according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), sports injuries may account for up to 39% of all dental injuries and emergencies in children! Parents, there really are two very important types of “athletic supporters.” Make sure you protect your child’s teeth and any braces or orthodontic appliances with a custom fitted mouthguard.
2. Stock Up – On Healthy Snacks For School & Sports Trips
School and sports trips and practices are back in full swing. Sometimes this means the kids are gone from early morning into the evening. Two good ways to make sure your child or teen can maintain good oral hygiene while on the road is to make sure are to provide healthy meal, snack items, and beverages, and to make it as easy as possible to brush.
Sports drinks often contain sugars and acids that can erode enamel and cause decay. When possible, we recommend packing a water bottle instead of sports drinks, or follow a sports drink with a good swish of water to rinse out the mouth.
Healthy snacking options that are also good for teeth include nuts and raw fruits and vegetables with peanut butter, and avoiding sugary or high-carb snacks. Food and drinks with calcium such as milk and yogurt are also a great item, as long as they are followed with a swish of water or brushing. Many snack and food items packaged as “low fat” often contain more sugar and carbs that can damage teeth and often won’t keep the appetite of a growing child at bay for very long. Packing snacks and meals that are nutrient-dense will help keep your child full and alert, and prevent the desire to splurge.
3. Fall Back – Into a Healthy Brushing & Flossing Routine
Back to school often means back to a steadier routine, which is a great thing when it comes to oral health. The best way to help your child and the whole family to develop and maintain a great oral health routine is to make it a whole-family priority. For families with younger kids, it’s sometimes helpful to brush as a family. This creates a routine that can be fun, while parents model good brushing habits for kids.
Brushing and flossing apps are available for tablets and smartphones. These apps can help teach proper brushing technique, time brushing to make sure kids use the full 2 minutes, and even provide motivation and music.
Check out our guides on proper brushing technique for both adults and children for more ideas and information.
4. Brace Yourself – Is it Time for an Orthodontic Check-up?
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, children should have their first orthodontic checkup by Age 7. An orthodontic consultation can help spot any potential issues with the bite and jaw alignment, and determine if any treatment can be provided to help encourage proper alignment early on, before the issues become more severe and may require orthodontic treatment interventions such as braces.
Older children and teens can also benefit from an orthodontic consultation if their teeth have moved or shifted as their adult teeth have grown in, or if their wisdom teeth are starting to erupt. Click here to learn more about what to expect from an orthodontic consultation.
5. Cleaning – It’s Not Just for Spring.
Regular dental checkup and cleaning visits every 6 months remain critical throughout childhood and adolescence. During these visits, your child’s dentist will review his or her oral hygiene habits, and make recommendations to them and to you, if needed, on home-care routines to help avoid dental caries and emergencies. For some children, an exam and documentation from a dentist may be a requirement for enrollment in school.
Schedules are busy and time is tight, but going to dental checkups as a family is another great opportunity to reinforce the importance of good dental health. A regular dental checkup “report” is just as important as an academic report card, giving parents an opportunity to celebrate and reward accomplishments, and create learning opportunities to reinforce healthy habits and behaviors.
Check here for some suggestions for making the first and future dental visits a positive experience for young and growing children.
As always, we welcome comments and suggestions. Cheers to you and your family for a healthy and productive school year!