Back to School Oral Health Tips

kids running to school

It’s that time of year again: school is back in full swing and fall sports have kicked off their seasons. For many households, this means that mornings are a whirlwind of getting kids dressed and fed before scooting them out the door to the bus stop. Afternoons aren’t time for rest and relaxation, either; the homework and dinner rush begins as soon as kids set foot in the door after school. Then, for many children, it’s time to change into athletic gear and head off to sports practice. An unfortunate side effect of a packed schedule, however, is that oral health often takes a back seat to the hustle and bustle of this time of year. Because establishing positive oral health habits early on is an essential part of maintaining good long-term dental health, consider the following back-to-school tips for a healthy smile:

Brush first thing in the morning. Many people– kids and adults alike– wait to brush their teeth until after breakfast in the morning. This is okay, as long as you remember to actually follow through and get the job done. Unfortunately, due to the hectic nature of school mornings, brushing teeth often slips the mind if it’s not done as soon as you get out of bed. Brushing first thing has another important benefit: on especially rushed mornings, you can take breakfast to-go in the car without worrying about brushing after eating.

Pack a healthy lunch. While it might be tempting to fill a lunch box with chips and cookies (especially for a kid packing his own lunch!), it’s important to pack lunches that are healthy– both for your body and your teeth. What should you pack? Consider items like fruits, veggies, grains, yogurt, and cheese. Stay away from processed and sugar-loaded foods. In addition to wreaking havoc on the teeth, sugar often leads to an afternoon crash, which can interfere with school work.

Send a water bottle to school. Along with a healthy lunch, make sure that your child carries a water bottle to school every day too. This isn’t only a good practice for kids, either; adults should drink plenty of water throughout the day as well. Of course, water is important for hydration purposes, but it also helps you to maintain a healthy smile. How? Water washes away food particles left on your teeth after meals and snacks. When food debris– and particularly sugary debris– are left on the teeth, the bacteria in plaque feeds on them and creates decay-causing acids.

Take proper precautions during sports. Sports are a great recreational activity for adults and children alike. Just like helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, and shin guards protect the body during athletic events, mouthguards are essential for protecting the teeth. Neglecting to wear a mouthguard while playing certain sports– football, basketball, and baseball in particular– can result in damaged, fractured, or even dislodged teeth.

Don’t neglect dental check-ups. Back-to-school is a busy time of year for everyone. Often, it feels like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. However, just as you shouldn’t neglect yearly physicals at the doctor or pediatrician, dental check-ups should be a priority as well. It’s recommended that children and adults visit the dentist twice a year for preventive check-ups and cleanings. This allows the dentist to diagnose and treat any problems early on, potentially saving time and money down the road.

Just as maintaining good physical health should be a priority for your family, keeping up with your dental health at all times of the year is critical too. Contact us today to learn how we can help your family achieve healthy smiles!

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