Back to school time is a fun and celebratory time for kids and parents (and pediatric dentists!) everywhere. New classrooms, new friends, and of course new freedom. This shouldn’t mean freedom from dental care, of course. Here are some tips for parents on how to make sure their children’s oral hygiene stays on track until the next checkup.
Food and Drink
Talk to their teacher about what they are giving out as snacks and rewards in the classroom. Some teachers will give out gummy, sticky treats for answering a question right or being well behaved. Although this positive reinforcement is great, that choice is possibly the worst for oral health. Better rewards could be string cheese.
What goes in their lunch? A healthy lunch means a healthy mouth so make sure to include lots of fruits and veggies and avoid things with high acid or sugar. A growing trend has had kids eating Hot Cheetos and Takis. These two chips are BY FAR the most acidic. They erode the hard outer layer of your teeth (the enamel), and can cause painful stomach ulcers. Avoid these at all costs and make sure your child knows just how bad they are for you
Back to school might as well mean “back to sports” for a lot of kids. Make sure your child has a properly fitting mouthguard if they are playing any contact sports. There are many you can buy in stores, referred to as a “boil and bite” guard. These work very well, but if you want to ensure the best protection for the teeth and other oral tissues, come to our office where we will make a custom mouthguard for your child.
Mouthguards are necessary and usually mandatory for sports like football and basketball but you might be shocked to learn that they are important for for swimmers as well. These mouthguards are smaller and thinner, used to protect the teeth against the acidic chlorinated pool water. Many swimmers have tell-tale yellow teeth that could have been prevented with a mouthguard.
Kids participating in sports typically have practice long hours in the heat of the afternoon. Many parents worry about their child dehydrating and provide sports drinks like Gatorade. Hydration is critical for a healthy body, however many times sports drinks are unnecessary for hydration while being a high source of acid and sugars. If you feel your child must drink sports drinks, please dilute it with water before drinking and swish with water after.
Going to school changes everyone’s routine. It is essential to brush every morning once you wake up and every night before you go to sleep. The bacteria in your mouth produce the most acid to cause cavities during your sleep, making your breath in the morning stink! No one wants to be the stinky breath kid at school, so make sure your child brushes their teeth and tongue every morning before school. If you feel like your child has extra stinky breath, consider getting a tongue scraper for their oral hygiene routine.
We hope everyone has a great school year!