Back-to-school is just around the corner. And with the lazy, hazy days of summer drawing to a close, now’s the time that many families start prepping for the busy school year ahead. One item to include on your to-do list? Setting up your child for another year of healthy teeth and gums.
But how do you do that? Here, Dr. Patel and the team at The Brace Place have 5 ways you can set your kids up for healthy teeth this year.
1. Schedule Check Ups and Cleanings With Your Dentist
To start the school season with healthy teeth, schedule your kids’ twice-annual dental check-ups and cleanings to coincide with the school year schedule. The first one can happen before the fall so it doesn’t interfere with school hours or after-school activities. And if your check-ups reveal less-than-healthy teeth because of cavities or gum disease, you can get them fixed before school begins. Or least before your child’s schedule starts in full swing.
At a check-up, your dentist has the chance to see if your kids have healthy smiles and suggest both at-home and professional cavity prevention. Some suggested treatments might include:
- Fluoride to strengthen teeth
- Dental sealants to create a barrier against tooth decay
- A mouthguard for sports to prevent dental trauma
A check-up is also an opportunity for your dentist to provide a refresher on brushing kids’ teeth. A mini-lesson is especially helpful for younger kids who are transitioning from their adult brushing and flossing their teeth to managing it on their own. A dentist can also check in on your child’s oral development and, if needed, suggest orthodontics that will improve your kid’s smile.
2. Kick-Start a Daily Solid Oral Hygiene Routine For Healthy Teeth
As mentioned, your dentist is a great resource for learning how to brush and floss for healthy teeth at home. Put their professional advice into practice by establishing a good oral care routine with your kids that can continue once school starts. Kids (and adults!) should brush twice a day — in the morning and before bed — and floss daily.
Now, we know that brushing kids’ teeth well day in and day out sometimes requires a little incentive. Here are a few tips for getting your kids excited about maintaining healthy teeth every day:
- Let them choose their own toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss – Kids are more interested in maintaining a healthy smile when they get to choose tools they like. Just be sure they opt for a soft toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride.As for flossing, younger kids might like the ease of floss picks, while older kids are typically able to hold floss with their fingers. And did you know dental floss comes in plenty of kid-friendly flavors? There are also kids’ water flossers that make flossing fun and easy.
- Talk about why healthy teeth and gums matter – It’s not uncommon for kids to ask their parents why teeth brushing is so important. Explain to your kids that a healthy smile equals teeth that look and function at their best. For example, cavities and gum disease can be painful, cause tooth sensitivity to hot and cold, or make eating difficult.
3. Plan A Menu of Teeth-Healthy Lunches and Snacks
It goes without saying that healthy eating contributes to healthy teeth and gums. While you and your kids have time in the summer, come up with teeth-healthy lunch and snack ideas together that you’re all excited about.
Foods good for teeth include colorful fruits and vegetables like carrots, tomatoes and berries. These have vitamins A and C that help strengthen gums. Crunching on hard veg like cucumbers, celery and broccoli helps manually scrub teeth of sticky sugars.
Cheese and yogurt have bone-strengthening calcium and vitamin D. And studies have shown that cheese is great for cavity prevention… and sometimes helps keeps teeth white! How? Cheddar, mozzarella, or gouda help clear out mouth sugars and bacteria that can cause stains and tooth decay.
Want more food ideas that support healthy teeth and gums? This earlier post has healthy snack ideas for kids with braces but applies to kids without them, too!
4. Include a Water Bottle For All-Day Hydration
If your child’s school doesn’t already suggest it, send your child to school with a full water bottle so they have access to hydration all day — they can usually refill it at school. Supply water instead of sugary juice boxes, which can contribute to plaque and tooth decay. Being well hydrated also helps keep your child’s mouth moist. Saliva helps wash away food debris and is an important part of keeping a pH environment that discourages bacteria.
5. See a Kids Orthodontist
Whether your dentist recommends an orthodontic visit for your kids or not, it’s a good idea to take your child to their first orthodontic visit early. Orthodontics for kids can go a long way in helping maintain healthy teeth and gums for life: straight teeth and a normal bite help with the cavity and tooth decay prevention they deserve.
But at what age should kids see an orthodontist? Well, the American Association of Orthodontists suggests that kids see an orthodontist by age seven. By this time, a few adult teeth have already grown in and their jaw shape is pretty much established. A highly trained orthodontic specialist like Dr. Patel can spot potential issues like misaligned teeth or a bad bite that might benefit from early orthodontic treatment or monitoring.
A Healthy Smile with The Brace Place
Excited to start the school year with a teeth-happy plan? Include a visit to your Claremore and Tulsa, OK orthodontist to give your kids a head start on their oral health this year.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation before the school year starts!