The back-to-school season is always busy. Between school supplies and new schedules, there’s a lot to do to make sure that your child is prepared for their first day. While it may not be an obvious back-to-school topic, the start of a new school year is a great time to make sure your child is observing good oral health habits. Here are our top 4 back-to-school dental tips to help your child start the new school year with a healthy smile.
Schedule Your Next Dental Appointment
Make sure that scheduling a dental appointment is on your child’s back to school list. The beginning of the school year is a great time to start fresh and make sure your child’s teeth and mouth are healthy. Ask your pediatric dentist about fluoride treatments and dental sealants that can help protect your child’s teeth from cavities. Preventing dental problems will help avoid missed school — up to a third of children miss some school due to oral problems each year.
Failing to schedule regular dental checkups for your child can have negative consequences. It may surprise you to learn that tooth decay is the most common chronic infectious disease among children from 2 to 19 years old. In fact, 19% of children have untreated tooth decay, which contributes to many missed days of school. By getting your child to the dentist every 6 months, you can help prevent your child from becoming a part of that scary statistic.
Pick the Right Snacks
Your list of back-to-school dental tips should include an updated grocery list. Since going back to school means the return of packed lunches, make sure you pack snacks that won’t harm your child’s teeth.
Fruit snacks are a popular lunchtime snack, but they can wreak havoc on your child’s teeth. The sticky snacks can cling to teeth, encouraging plaque growth. Instead of the artificial option, swap them for real fruit. Bananas, strawberries, grapes, and oranges will satisfy your child’s sweet tooth without harming their teeth.
Juice boxes and other sugary drinks are another popular lunchbox item that does more harm than good. The added sugar can cause tooth decay and cavities. Opt for water or milk for a healthier choice.
Although starchy snacks like pretzels and chips are less obvious offenders, they can also be bad for your child’s teeth. Simple starches break down into a sticky mass that can stick to teeth and cause cavities. If your child loves crunchy snacks, try offering them sunflower seeds, almonds, or baby carrots instead.
Make Brushing and Flossing Fun
Maintaining good oral habits isn’t just a back to school dental tip; it’s a tip that should be followed year-round. Your child should be brushing their teeth twice a day — once in the morning and once at night — for two minutes each time. Children should also floss once a day, preferably in the evenings. It can be difficult to encourage kids to keep up with their oral hygiene, so consider some creative ways of motivating them.
Creating sticker charts for oral hygiene habits is a great way to keep kids on track. Have them add a sticker each day that they remember to brush and floss. If the stickers alone aren’t enough motivation, consider rewarding them with a small toy if they go a whole week without missing a day of brushing and flossing.
Toothbrushes come in a wide variety of shapes and designs, so let your child pick out one that they love. If your child likes switching things up, let them have two or three toothbrushes that they can choose from every day.
If your child is resistant to flossing, try buying them floss picks. They’re available in several bright colors and shapes, like dinosaurs and jungle animals. Floss picks tend to be easier to children to maneuver than traditional floss, and the fun designs can make the activity more enjoyable.
Get Fitted For a Mouthguard
Going back to school means the return of gym class and, for some children, organized sports. If your child regularly participates in physical activity, consider getting them fitted with a mouthguard.
About 25% of dental injuries in children are caused by sports-related injuries, with the majority of these injuries involving the top front teeth. However, only four sports (football, ice hockey, field hockey, and lacrosse) require that children wear mouthguards. Whether your child is required to have a mouthguard for their sport of choice or not, it’s still a good idea to wear one. The American Dental Association recommends that children who participate in basketball, baseball, bicycling, soccer, skateboarding, wrestling, and volleyball be fitted with a mouthguard.
There are several types of mouthguards that your child can use:
- Pre-made Mouthguards: Pre-made mouthguards come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are typically held in place by biting down. While these are the least expensive mouthguards, their quality varies widely, and they may not fit your child’s mouth securely.
- Boil and Bite Mouthguards: These are shaped by first immersing them in hot water and then biting down to form to your child’s teeth.
- Custom Mouthguards: You can ask your dentist about creating a model of your child’s teeth, from which you can mold a custom mouth guard. These mouthguards offer the highest level of protection and comfort.
It’s best to get them one that they find comfortable; otherwise, they will be reluctant to wear it.
Schedule Your Appointment Today
Your child’s dental health is a key part of their overall health. Making sure that they’re observing good oral hygiene habits means that they won’t have to miss any days of school due to tooth troubles. If you’re ready to start on our list of back to school dental tips, make your appointment with Children’s Dentistry today. We have convenient locations throughout the Greater Las Vegas region, including North Las Vegas, Pahrump, and Paradise.