This year, some North Carolina kids will go back-to-school in their Goldsboro or Raleigh classroom, whereas others must continue schooling at home. Either way, before- and after-school dental hygiene is very important. In fact, tooth brushing and flossing are among the most important parts of their day. But getting your children back into a good routine is generally easier said than done. Dental health becomes less of a priority, particularly in the first days of the school year.
It is important to remain focused on teaching your child good dental health habits year-round. Start their mornings with this focus, also ending the day after following through on good dental hygiene practices. After all, what you teach them while they live at home establishes how they will treat their teeth throughout their lifetime.
Below are six tips for helping your child maintain their best dental health when going back-to-school and throughout their lifetime.
1. “Breakfast and Brushing”
Mornings get much more hectic when the kids head back-to-school. This is true, even if they only head to a computer desk in the den for virtual studies. In the mad rush of mornings, kids easily forget to brush their teeth. Help them remember this key task by forming a routine of “breakfast and brushing.” If your kids tend to forget this important step in dental health, put a sticky note on the inside of the front door or wherever they will see it.
2. Schoolday Snacks
Schoolday snacking impacts your child’s smile. If you supply their snacks, provide healthy options that actually help clean their teeth. Good examples include carrot sticks, celery, strawberries and apple slices. Apples also help fight bad breath. Strawberries help remove stains on teeth, thanks to the malic acid in the fruit.
3. At-School Drinks
Remind your child of the importance of drinking plenty of water each day, even at school. Water helps wash away sugar and other debris from teeth, also helping the gums stay healthy. When going back-to-school, it is hard to maintain control over your children’s love of sugary drinks. But, you can encourage white milk to help them keep their teeth healthy and strong.
If your kids still crave juices or other sugary drinks, allow them to have a sports drink or cup of juice with their after-school studies. Then, encourage them to rinse their mouth with water or brush their teeth to protect their smiles. Show them that they get to have a beverage they like if they follow it with teeth brushing. This sets a great pattern for lifelong dental health.
4. Chewing Sugarless Gum
Kids love chewing gum. This can cause problems for dental health, unless they chew sugarless gum. In fact, their chewing habit can help their teeth. Chewing sugarless gum freshens breath and prompts the mouth to produce more saliva. Saliva helps clean acids off of teeth, keeping tooth enamel strong.
Although most schools do not permit gum chewing, teach your child that sugarless gum is a great habit after eating, when they cannot brush. Encourage your high-school and college kids who eat lunch off-campus to keep sugar-free gum in their backpack.
5. After-School Refresh
Immediately after finishing their school day is the best time for your kids to enjoy a snack. Once they finish this snack, have them brush their teeth, floss and use mouthwash. If they do not eat an after school snack, encourage them to brush immediately after getting home.
6. Bedtime Brushing
Everyone needs to brush and floss their teeth before going to bed. At night, the sugars, acids, food debris and plaque left on teeth erode tooth enamel and cause decay. Remind your children that a lot goes on in their mouths as they sleep. Explain that brushing and flossing help reduce this damaging activity. Make brushing part of back-to-school, by encouraging it at bath time or as they prepare their clothes for the next day.
Back-to-School Dental Health Checkup at Carolina Dental Arts