School is back in session! Back-to-school season can be the best time for parents to reinforce positive habits and behaviors in their children, and great dental oral health is one of them. Whether your child is in their first year of school or finishing high school, you always want to make sure that your youngsters have a lovely, functioning set of pearly teeth.

Did you know that according to the American Dental Association, one of the leading causes of children's absences from school is dental discomfort or pain? Dental pain can also interfere with a child's ability to speak, study, eat, sleep and do other daily tasks. Dental problems can also cause infection, bad breath, cavities, tooth loss, clenching or grinding, and abscesses in the teeth. Not to mention that poor oral health can also have a negative impact on your child’s self-esteem.

That’s why it’s so important that children have good oral health habits; this ensures they will go back to school with a bright, healthy smile. At Durango Dental, we’re here to help your children prepare for heading back to school with an oral health checklist so they can have a healthy start to the school year.

1. Reestablish Dental Routines

It's easy to skip a brushing or two throughout the summer, but the beginning of a new academic year is the perfect time to restart healthy habits for both you and your children. You can do this by re-establishing a daily morning and bedtime routine. This means brushing twice a day and flossing once per day before bedtime. When it comes to your children's dental health, prevention is always better than treatment.

2. Buy New Toothbrushes

Make sure to include new toothbrushes on your back-to-school shopping list. Children's toothbrushes or electric toothbrushes need to be replaced every three to four months, as frayed bristles due to general use are less efficient at cleaning teeth and can contain bacteria. Back-to-school shopping is an excellent opportunity to get a new toothbrush to keep your child's teeth clean until winter break.

3. Help Make Oral Routines More Enjoyable

Observing a dental routine can be boring for youngsters, and it’s also one of the reasons they might skip it altogether. You can help make their oral routine more enjoyable by encouraging them to do the following:

  • Next time you go shopping with the kids, allow your children to choose a themed toothbrush in their favorite color, as well as toothpaste and floss to their taste. Consider purchasing a child’s electric toothbrush. Ask Durango Dental for some cheaper options.
  • If they aren’t using an electric toothbrush be sure to use a timer! Dental timers will challenge your kids to brush for two minutes, which is the recommended brushing time. Dental timers are cheap and easy to use; simply place them next to the toothbrush holder and encourage your children to use them when they start brushing.
  • Maintain a daily calendar to help your children keep track of their morning and nightly oral health habits, recording every time they brush.
  • Encourage good dental habits by providing a small incentive, such as stickers or more TV time if they brush and floss every single day of the week.

4. Encourage Proper Hydration

There's a reason water is known as nature's cavity fighter! It’s the healthiest drink for your child's teeth and aids in the removal of leftover food and germs that might cause tooth decay. Encourage your children to drink water throughout the day and avoid buying sugary drinks. Sports drinks, soda, and juice all contain more sugar than you may realize and should only be consumed on special occasions. Please note that when we speak of water, we mean uncarbonated water. Carbonated drinks, including water, can erode tooth enamel so make sure it’s water that comes straight from the tap.

5. Pack A Healthy Lunchbox

Make nutritious snacks and lunches a priority, because the food and drink in your children's lunchboxes can have a great impact on their teeth. Sugary and starchy foods are known to increase cavities and weaken teeth, so make sure the food and snacks you’re packing are healthy options. Milk, oats, cheese, yogurt, raw veggies, and fruit are all good additions to your child's lunch. Also, encourage your children to carry a reusable water bottle to school to discourage them from purchasing soda or other sugary drinks.

6. Ensure They Use Mouthguards for Sports

With sports and outdoor activities gearing up, it's critical that your child wears the correct equipment to protect their safety every time they play high-impact sports. Keep a mouth guard in their school bag to use every time they participate in sports. You can ask your dentist about bespoke mouthguards during your next visit; these always outperform those found at sporting goods stores.

If your child sustains a dental injury while playing sports, bring them in for a dental visit. Mouth injuries are to be taken seriously, and if not treated properly, they can cost thousands of dollars in dental expenses, or worse, they can leave your child with irreversible lifetime damage if the issue goes untreated for too long. Make sure you always have the phone number of your children's dentist clinic handy in case of an emergency.

7. Schedule Appointments With Your Dentist Every Six Months

Seeing your dentist every six months is important if you want your youngsters to have a clean and healthy smile. Even if you believe you are properly caring for their teeth, there are some dental problems that only a dental professional will notice. If your kid's dentist discovers a problem, they can administer fluoride treatments or sealants to prevent decay and spare your child from pain and missed school time.

According to the American Dental Association, regular dental checkups are just as vital for children as vaccines and booster doses, since dental decay frequently goes unrecognized by parents until it causes severe complications. Even if your child has mild oral health issues, getting them under control sooner rather than later will help prevent issues in the long term.

Durango DMD is the place to visit if you want pleasant, high-quality care delivered with a light touch. Dr. Belt brings over a decade of experience into his family practice here in Durango.

Schedule a dental check-up or cleaning for your child by calling us at 970-259-3112 today!