Summer is over and that means parents are getting their kids ready for school. In the hustle and bustle of starting a new school year, it can be easy to let dental habits and oral care slide. But, gum disease can affect people of all ages, and it never takes the summer off. As you get your family ready for back-to-school, don’t forget to schedule a dental checkup and to encourage your kids to practice good dental habits both at home and at school.
Schedule Appointments for the Entire Family
If you haven’t already, take the time to schedule a dental examination for every member of your family for the beginning of the school year. Many schools require students to have physical examinations by their doctors before they can go to school or play a sport. But, most don’t have the same requirements for dentists.
Since your child’s dental health can have an impact on his or her overall health, it’s as important to commit to seeing your family’s dentist at least twice a year. Use the back-to-school season as an excuse for finally scheduling those checkups.
Get Kids in the Habit of Brushing Before Class
Returning to school means returning to a set schedule of waking up, eating breakfast, then heading off to class. If your child’s summer schedule was relaxed and laid back, you might have to work extra hard to get him or her back in the habit of brushing and flossing before he or she heads off to school.
You can mark the occasion by picking up a new toothbrush for you child, when you are out buying back-to-school clothing and supplies. Just as letting him or her pick out the folders and pencils makes your child a bit more excited about heading back to school, letting him or her pick out the toothbrush, floss and toothpaste can make him or her more excited about brushing teeth before the school day begins.
Be Careful About School Lunches
During the summer, you may have been able to keep a close eye on what your child ate and drank at lunchtime. That becomes a bit more challenging once the school year begins. While many school cafeterias have banned sugary sodas, they still sell fruit juices and sugary treats, which can cause tooth decay and affect your child’s overall oral health.
While you can’t keep your child from swapping lunches with another, you can take some action to protect his or her teeth while at school. Leave the sweet stuff out of the lunch box, and instead, choose foods that provide some benefit to the teeth and gums. Pack a lunch with crunchy vegetables and fruits, such as apples and carrots, as these can help sweep bits of food off the surface of the teeth. Crunching on apples or carrots also produces a lot of saliva, which helps rinse the mouth clean.
Invest in a Mouthguard
If your child is going to play any sports or participate in physical activity during the school day, you may consider investing in a mouthguard for him. Depending on the sport, the school might require you to get a mouthguard for your child. While implant dentistry can give your child a replacement tooth that looks and feels natural, when it comes to avoiding injury to the teeth, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Dental Care During the School Day
Taking care of the teeth and gums during the school day can be challenging. There’s usually not time for your child to brush his or her teeth after lunch and most schools forbid the use of chewing gum, even if it can help clean the mouth. One way to help your child take care of his or her teeth is to pack a bottle of tap water with lunch.
Tap water usually contains fluoride, which strengthens teeth and can protect against cavities. Your child can drink the water or rinse his or her mouth with it to get it part way clean. It won’t be the same as brushing, but it should hold your student over until he or she gets home from school.
Keep in mind that if your child wears braces or a retainer, he or she should take the time to brush after lunch or to wash the retainer. Food bits are more likely to get stuck in braces, which can cause a bit of embarrassment in class. Talk to your child’s teacher about setting up a time so that he or she can take care of any dental work during the school day.
When you’re booking a regular dental appointment for your child for back-to-school, you may want to book an appointment with a periodontist, too. Up to 30 percent of children have some form of gum disease, and the sooner it is treated, the better the results. Dr. John Paul Gallardo and Dr. William Lamas are Miami periodontists who can check out your family and provide the appropriate periodontal treatment. To schedule a back-to-school appointment with the periodontists, call (305) 447-1447 today.