Back-to-school season is upon us! We know fall can be frantic for parents as they get kids to school, juggle activities, pack lunches and try to stay organized. Sometimes, kids’ oral hygiene can drop to the bottom of the priorities in the midst of the chaos. Well, 914 Smiles is here to help! We’ve compiled some of our favorite back-to-school dental tips for kids to make keeping your little one’s smile healthy a breeze.
Create Solid Brushing and Flossing Routines
Brushing twice a day for two minutes each session and flossing once daily are keys to kids’ healthy teeth. For preschoolers and elementary-aged kids, you’ll want to monitor their oral hygiene routines to make sure they’re brushing and flossing properly. If your kids’ oral hygiene routines get off track, positive reinforcement or things like sticker charts to track progress can be good ways to get them back on the brushing and flossing wagon. The American Dental Association even has fun teeth brushing calendars you can download for free.
Combine Oral Hygiene With Other Tasks
Sometimes, it can be tempting to just rush through brushing and flossing in order to make it to the bus or drop off on time. Put those multitasking skills to work. For example, you might want to brush your kiddo’s hair while they tackle their teeth or fill them in on the day’s schedule as they floss.
Pack Healthy Snacks
When parents ask us how to keep kids’ teeth healthy in school, we usually recommend sending them with some healthy snacks like raw, crunchy fruit and veggies, such as carrots and apples, which act like natural toothbrushes and scrape away plaque as kids eat. Additionally, calcium-rich snacks, including yogurt and cheese are smile-friendly and nuts and seeds can strengthen kids’ teeth and protect the enamel. Packing a lunch can be another good way to make sure your child is eating a well-balanced, nutritious meal. However, if they do opt to buy lunch or you know they snack a lot during the school day, balance it out at home with healthy choices.
Sports drinks, soda, chocolate milk, fruit juice and other sugary drinks can lead to cavities in kids. Water is a smile’s best friend. It has no sugar or carbohydrates in it for the bacteria in the mouth to feed on. Plus, it washes away food debris and helps stimulate saliva production, which is important for replacing minerals that are lost in the teeth and neutralizing plaque acids. Fill up a reusable water bottle before sending kids off to school for the day and encourage them to refill it while they’re at school and choose water over other beverages.
Chat About Oral Health
The biggest hurdle when it comes to how to keep kids’ teeth healthy in school is that you’re not with them. You have to trust them to make good choices that will strengthen their smile, whether it’s passing up on soda or staying away from foods that will damage their braces. That’s why it’s important to talk to them about why their oral health is so crucial and how they can keep their teeth and gums in tip-top shape. If you need help, you can always ask our Tarrytown pediatric dentist, Dr. Kumar, or our orthodontist, Dr. Kothari, for tips on discussing oral health with your child or teen.
Get a Mouthguard
If your child plays sports or does an activity where they could sustain an injury to their mouth, a mouthguard is a must even if the use of a mouthguard isn’t mandatory. This is especially true if your child is in braces. Dental injuries from sports are extremely common and they can be painful and very expensive to fix. For kids in orthodontic treatment, us about our custom mouthguards for braces.
Don’t Skip Dental Checkups or Orthodontic Appointments
The most important of our back-to-school dental tips for kids is to make dental checkups and orthodontic appointments a priority. At your child’s pediatric dental exams, we’ll clean their teeth and get rid of hardened plaque that can’t be eliminated with a toothbrush at home. We’ll also examine their teeth and gums. If we do spot issues, we can take care of them early while they’re relatively easy and inexpensive to treat. After all, the best dental care is preventative care. If your child has braces or Invisalign Teen, regular visits let us make sure their treatment stays on track and that they get the best possible results.
Try our tips to keep your kids’ teeth healthy this school year and while you’re at it, schedule a dental or orthodontic visit at 914 Smiles. Dr. Kothari and Dr. Kumar are committed to giving kids healthy teeth in a way that works for your family’s schedule and needs!