Back to School: A Great Time to Start Healthy Habits

We know that many of you will be getting back into a routine this week as school is starting.  Hopefully, you and your kids will have more consistent bedtimes and alarms in the morning.  Having a schedule can be a really great thing for your oral health!

As a parent, you can leverage the new schedule to help your child develop good habits.

Bedtime Routine

We know that bedtime with tired kids can be a battle.  That’s why making their oral hygiene regimen part of a nightly routine is so important.  A great oral hygiene routine should include brushing and flossing, and some kids may need to use mouthwash.

Brushing

The goal of brushing is to remove dental plaque from the teeth.  The largest amounts of plaque collect near the gums and on the biting surfaces of the teeth.  Kids are typically good at brushing the biting surfaces, but they usually miss the gumline.  An electric toothbrush can help them more effectively remove plaque.

You should help your young children brush their teeth until they are old enough to tie their shoelaces and legibly write their names.

Plaque disclosing tablets are a wonderful tool in helping your child see the plaque he or she is missing when brushing.  It stains dental plaque a bright color, making it visible.

Flossing

Flossing is more difficult for young children to accomplish, so you need to oversee and/or help them perform the nightly task.  The easiest way to floss someone else’s teeth is to sit on the floor and have him lay down with his head in your lap.  Then you can look straight down into the mouth and see where you are flossing.

Children do need flossing every night because they have a high risk of developing cavities between the teeth. Brushing will not remove dental plaque from between the teeth, so flossing is essential.  You can let your child floss with small flossers or floss-picks, but it is best if you also floss your child’s teeth well every night.

Mouthwash

Some children will benefit from mouthwash, but not all children need it.  First of all, you should only let your child use mouthwash if you know that he or she will not swallow it.  They must be able to spit it all out.  If your child can spit out the mouthwash completely, then you can decide whether it would benefit him.

Children with a high cavity risk should incorporate a mouthwash that contains fluoride after they brush and floss.  This allows the fluoride to stay on the teeth, adding strength and fighting cavities.

Children with gingivitis (red, swollen gums) may need to use an antiseptic mouthrinse to fight bacteria.  Ask your dentist or hygienist for a specific recommendation.

Morning Routine

In the morning, feed your children a low-sugar breakfast and limit their intake of fruit juices.  Juice is full of sugar and acidic in pH.  It is best if they brush their teeth before school so that they start the day plaque-free. 

If your child takes a drink to school, make sure it is plain water.  Even milk has a small amount of sugar in it, and over time, it can lead to cavities. 

We know that getting out the door for school in the morning can be hectic.  It may help to keep some small disposable toothbrushes in your car for a quick brush on the go.  (It’s not the best, but it’s better than not brushing at all!)

After School Snacks

When you pick your little ones up from school, they are probably hungry!  After school snacks can be super healthy, or they can be super unhealthy.  Here are some tips for picking the best after school snacks for your kids.

  • Avoid sodas, sports drinks, or fruit juices.  These are all high in sugar and very acidic.  Drink water or milk.
  • Choose snacks that are high in fat or protein, like cheese and nuts. 
  • Avoid snacks that are simple carbohydrates, like chips, crackers, cookies, or candy.
  • Choose complex carbohydrates, like raw veggies.
  • After they eat their snacks, follow with a piece of sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production and lower cavity risk.

More Questions about Back to School Habits?

Call Prosper Family Dentistry at 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara and Dr. Summer.  They can answer any question you have about great habits for healthy mouths!

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