The beginning of the school year often leaves parents hurrying to round up school supplies and schedule those last-minute physicals. While all of these preparations are important, you should also be aware that the school season is when students are exposed to new situations that pose a risk for their oral health.
Whether your child plays contact sports or is tempted to snack during a study break with their friends, your influence helps them stay on track with their oral hygiene. As you make your back-to-school checklist, you can use these strategies to help your child maintain a healthy smile even when they have a busy schedule.
Plan Lunches and Snacks With Teeth in Mind
School lunch breaks are often short, and your child may not always have time to brush their teeth before their next class. While your child should always brush their teeth before school, those hours of food debris sitting in their mouth can lead to serious plaque buildup.
Fortunately, you can combat this problem by packing lunches and snacks that are less likely to stick to their teeth. For instance, chips tend to break down into starch and leave a sticky residue. Swap these out for crunchy vegetables that can actually help to clean teeth and are less likely to stay in your kid's mouth.
Limit the Consumption of Energy Drinks
Energy drinks are often loaded with sugar and caffeine, which is why older kids and teens sometimes turn to them for a burst of energy. Unfortunately, energy drinks are also highly acidic, and drinking them regularly can wear down the enamel on your kid's teeth.
Talk to your child about the hazards associated with energy drinks, and suggest healthier alternatives. For instance, simply staying hydrated with water helps to keep energy levels up naturally, and the water keeps their mouth from drying out during high-intensity sports.
Enforce Wearing a Mouthguard During Sports
Athletic activities are essential for helping your child stay physically fit. However, your child's favorite sport could be bad for their oral health if you don't take the right precautions. Make it a rule that your child must wear their mouthguard if they want to practice or compete.
Your child should also know how to clean their mouthguard since these devices can build up bacteria, which lead to gum infections and tooth decay. During your child's back-to-school dental visit, we can show them how to properly clean their mouthguard after every use so that it contributes to better oral health.
Take Steps to Reduce Tooth Damage Caused by Stress
Students experience more stress during the school year that may manifest in oral behaviors. For example, your child may grind their teeth at night if they are stressed out about their grades or a social situation. Eventually, this can lead to tooth problems such as cracks or worn-down biting surfaces.
Create an open atmosphere at home so that your child knows that they can talk to you about stress. You should also watch for signs that stress is affecting your child's oral health. For example, a child who complains that their jaw hurts or who has headaches frequently may be clenching their teeth at night.
Put Together a School-Friendly Oral Hygiene Kit
Students who are constantly rushing from one class or extracurricular event to another may forget to brush their teeth even once they get home. Yet seeing a toothbrush in their backpack can make them remember to brush during little pockets of time when they have a break.
As you put together your child's school supplies, create a small hygiene kit that they can stash in their backpack or locker. Just a travel-sized toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste can go a long way toward preventing cavities.
At New England Dental Health Services PC, we love helping students keep up their oral health along with their grades. Give us a call today to make an appointment that fits into your child's new school schedule.