Missing school to go to the dentist is never ideal. As parents, it’s our responsibility to make sure that we promote good dental hygiene for our children, especially when the school year rolls around. This includes creating a routine of healthy habits at school to avoid dealing with cavities and toothaches.
At Rhoades Family Dentistry, we know it can be challenging to keep up with your child’s oral hygiene, especially when sugar, snacks, and treats are involved. With a little extra help, you can assist your child so they can keep their smile shining. Here are our favorite tips for getting your child back to school without sacrificing dental hygiene.
1. Establish a Schedule
The best way to form a healthy habit is to establish a schedule from the beginning. If you can form a healthy routine with your child, they may be more willing to follow it to take care of their teeth.
This schedule should include a daily upkeep routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash. Try to schedule dental care at the same time every morning and night to stay consistent. You’ll also want to discuss going to the dentist every six to twelve months to prepare your child for their routine appointments.
As a parent, make sure you regularly check your child’s teeth for discoloration, stain, plaque buildup, and red or swollen gums. These could be signs that something is wrong, especially if your child is also in pain. All mouth pain should be addressed with your child’s dentist as soon as possible to avoid any significant problems.
Remember that establishing a routine at home means your child will be more willing to uphold those healthy habits when they’re at school, too.
2. Teach Your Child About Oral Hygiene
If you want your child to take care of their teeth, then you’ll need to teach them why it’s so important. Oral hygiene is a lifelong habit that must be kept every day, so you should introduce your child to an effective hygienic routine at an early age.
This routine should include brushing and rinsing with mouthwash at least twice a day and flossing once in the morning or at night before bed. Younger children should be supervised to make sure that they are brushing and flossing correctly. Set a timer to help with brushing time so your child feels motivated to brush for the entire two to three minutes.
You can also teach your child brushing and flossing techniques by demonstrating with your own teeth. This helps your child out until they understand the proper methods for healthy oral hygiene.
Remember that brushing and flossing alone are not the only methods for keeping your children’s teeth healthy. Fluoride treatments and sealants are also great options for strengthening teeth and protecting against cavities and tooth decay.
3. Discuss At-School Dental Care
Many parents may be concerned about their child’s dental hygiene while they are at school. Here are some habits you can discuss with your kids, so they are better prepared for taking care of their oral hygiene on their own at school.
- Brush During the Day: It’s recommended that kids brush their teeth two to three times a day—in the morning, at night before bed, and sometime during the day. If it’s convenient during school, encourage your child to brush and rinse with mouthwash after eating lunch, especially if they have braces. If they don’t have an opportunity during the school day, it’s a good idea for kids to brush their teeth right when they get home in the afternoon.
- Avoid Sugary Snacks: Encourage your child to avoid most candy, sweets, or vending machine snacks while at school. You may consider packing a healthy lunch for your kids rather than having them eat food from the school cafeteria.
- Keep Their Toothbrush Clean: If your child is planning on brushing after lunch, make sure that they keep their toothbrush in a clean environment and away from bacteria in their school bag. Storing their toothbrush in a bag and shaking off any excess water after brushing can help to prevent germ buildup.
- Discuss Adult Supervision: For younger children, it may be wise to discuss with their school the possibility of adult supervision when they brush their teeth. Some school nurses may be willing to help younger kids brush their teeth properly after lunch.
4. Promote a Healthy Diet
Promoting a healthy diet at home can encourage your children to maintain the same healthy habits while at school. If kids eat candy multiple times a day, especially ones that cause high acidity levels in the mouth, this may increase their chances of getting a cavity.
Try to limit the intake of candy, sweets, soda, and sugary beverages. Foods high in carbohydrates can also be bad for your teeth, such as potato chips, snack bars, pasta, cookies, and cake. If you are giving these foods to your children, try to do so sparingly or in moderation. Giving kids a sugary treat right after a meal is also an option since the food from the meal provides some protection from the sugar.
The best way to promote a healthy diet for your child is to encourage healthy and responsible snacking. You should recommend healthy desserts and snacks, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grain cereal, and dairy products such as milk and cheese. Some candy options that aren’t as bad for your teeth are dark chocolate, sugar-free gum, and sugar-free lollipops.
Promote hydration by encouraging your child to drink water while at school, especially during lunch and snack time. If your kids are eating at school—especially sugary foods—they should try to brush their teeth as soon as possible after consumption.
Make sure to explain to your children which foods are good for their teeth and which foods aren’t. If your child understands the harmful effects of sugar, they may be more willing to eat healthier options.
5. Schedule Regular Dental Check-Ups
We highly recommend that you take your child to the dentist one to two times a year. During a regular dental check-up, your child’s dentist will provide a thorough teeth cleaning and examination for cavities, plaque, and other decay. The dentist can also give you tips about proper dental care and help teach your kids how to take care of their teeth properly. As a pro tip, schedule dentist appointments in advance to avoid forgetting about them later.
The back-to-school season can be a stressful time for many families. To avoid worrying about your kid’s dental care, encourage proper oral hygiene by establishing a routine of healthy habits that they can also use while at school.
Are you looking for a child-friendly dentist to discuss back-to-school dental care? At Rhoades Family Dentistry, we specialize in all general dental services, including those for your children. Contact us today at 913-782-8900 to schedule an appointment.