As the upcoming school year approaches and you begin to think about checking off your child’s school supplies list, we encourage you to also consider checking off this list of simple steps to ensure your child’s oral health stays strong throughout the summer and their upcoming year of studies.
7 Simple Steps for a Mouth-Healthy School Year
1. Maintain Your Brushing Routine Throughout Summer
Learning to maintain healthy habits – no matter the season – is an important life lesson for children (and adults too!). Be sure you keep up your healthy oral hygiene habits all summer long so that your children will be ready to continue brushing their teeth regularly on school mornings and school night bedtimes once summer is over.
Teach them the proper brushing techniques too, so that they know to brush for two minutes total (30 seconds on each quadrant of teeth) with fluoridated toothpaste. Plus, show them how to hold the toothbrush bristles so that they are at the right angle (45 degrees) against the gums for optimal cleaning.
2. Eat Less Sugar
The harmful bacteria in our mouths feed on the sugar in our foods and beverages. It then produces acids that eat away at the tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay and cavities. To help mitigate bacterial growth in your child’s mouth and to reduce their risk of tooth decay, be sure to limit the amount of sugar they are consuming. Plus, pack fewer sugary treats and drinks in their school lunches.
Instead of sugar, include cheese which not only contains teeth-fortifying calcium and other minerals, but it also contains enzymes that actually help stymie bacterial growth inside the mouth.
3. Drink More Water
Pack your child a bottle of fresh water in their school bag every day. Staying hydrated helps to promote better oral health by washing harmful bacteria off of the teeth and out of the mouth with every drink in addition to promoting continuous saliva production. Having healthy saliva production also helps to rinse bacteria out of the mouth. In addition, saliva continuously remineralizes the teeth with the fluoride, calcium, and phosphate from your child’s healthy diet.
In addition to keeping their mouths healthier, staying hydrated is also good for your child’s overall health, body, and brain function since our bodies rely on water for almost every process.
4. Floss Daily
In addition to teaching your children how to brush their teeth, you should also encourage them to floss their teeth at least once a day. Show them how to hold the dental floss in a “C” shape that hugs the contours of each tooth when they gently push it between their teeth. Then be sure they know to push it on either side of the little “peak” of their gums that pokes up between each tooth.
5. Get Enough Dairy
Dairy contains essential nutrients for everyone, but these nutrients are especially essential to children that are growing and developing. Making sure your child consumes enough calcium and minerals ensures their body has the building blocks to build strong teeth and bones.
6. Replace That Toothbrush
Toothbrushes wear out over time. They also get dirty and can carry (and transmit) bacteria and viruses. You should be replacing your child’s toothbrush once every few months or whenever the bristles start to appear worn out or frayed.
Additionally, it’s a smart idea to replace a toothbrush after your child has been sick because they can actually reinfect themselves with bacteria or viruses left on the old toothbrush. If your family has a shared toothbrush holder or cup where toothbrushes are in close proximity, then we recommend replacing everyone’s toothbrush after anyone in the family has been sick to help prevent cross-contamination and the spread of contagious diseases between family members.
7. Schedule a Dental Checkup
Finally, one of the most important steps you can take to ensure your child has a healthy mouth for the school year and to ensure their teeth and other maxillofacial structures are developing properly is to remember to schedule your child for dental cleanings and examinations every six months.
Regular examinations ensure that our dentist can detect early signs of potential issues before they develop into more serious concerns. Additionally, it gives us the chance to get to know your child and help you instill healthy oral hygiene habits in them that will set them up for a lifetime of good oral and general health.
In addition to routine prophylactic dental cleanings during your child’s dental appointments, we can also provide them with additional preventive dental treatments such as sealants and fluoride treatments. Dental sealants help to prevent tooth decay and cavities on your child’s molars by protecting and smoothing out their chewing surfaces, while fluoride helps to fortify your child’s tooth enamel through topical remineralization.
Preventive Family Dentistry in West Bend
To learn more about pediatric dentistry and the preventive dental treatments that can help safeguard your child’s oral health to ensure this upcoming school year is fun, productive, and filled with good health, we welcome you to contact our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jared Harding at Dentistry of West Bend today.