The back-to-school checklist can often seem never-ending, as parents scramble to buy their kids the necessary stationery, bags, shoes or uniforms. A key point that is often missed out, however, is a plan to help ensure that a child’s teeth are well looked after.
Healthy teeth are key to helping a child thrive and grow in a school environment. Indeed, as they start facing exciting new challenges and making a host of new friends, the last thing a young person wants to think about is a problem that arises from poor dental hygiene.
Every parent wants the best for their child, setting them up to learn well and flourish in a new school. A part of this process is instilling good dental hygiene practices in them from a young age. It is all too easy to believe that you do not need to worry about your child’s teeth until their permanent, adult set grows in. However, habits are notoriously hard to break, and establishing good ones during childhood is fundamental to following them through into adulthood.
Combat a Growing Trend
Tooth decay is on the rise amongst kids all over the world, particularly as sugary sweets and snacks become more readily available. According to a statement from the American Dental Association, sending your kids to dental check-ups is just as important as ensuring they are vaccinated against major diseases. Indeed, dental disease and decay can lead to a whole host of developmental issues, as it prevents children from eating, playing, speaking and, ultimately, learning.
In this way, the case for establishing a thorough new dental hygiene plan for your kids is clear. As such, to help you navigate the world of young oral health, we’ve laid out a few key dental tips for kids. Just remember: the tooth fairy will thank you for it!
1. Book a Trip to the Dentist
One of the best ways to avoid oral health problems is to accompany your child to the dentist every six months. After all, parents and teachers are not qualified to diagnose issues themselves and, by the time a problem presents itself, uncomfortable and extensive treatment may be required.
Preventative dentistry, then, is vital for preventing gum disease and tooth decay, as well as strengthening the enamel of your child’s teeth.
At the appointment, the dentist may suggest applying fluoride treatments or preventative sealants to ward off decay. Do not be put off by the idea of treatments – in the long run, they will help your child enjoy a carefree, happy school life free from pain and oral health issues.
It is always good to remember that dental care for children need not be tricky, particularly when you have professionals at hand to help.
2. Establish an Oral Hygiene Routine
Whilst visiting a dentist is obviously very important, they cannot be relied upon to prevent tooth issues on their own. Most of the legwork involved in maintaining good oral health should be carried out by parents and kids themselves.
Start by ensuring your child brushes their teeth a minimum of twice a day – once after breakfast and once just before bed. Let your kids know that every brushing session should last at least two minutes, and that they should pay close attention to every part of their mouth. It is also a good idea to get kids used to using dental floss regularly. This is something many adults are prone to forget or ignore, and many of us pay the price for it!
In terms of equipment, make sure that the toothpaste you buy includes fluoride and that you stock up on plenty of toothbrushes. It is recommended that a child switches to a new toothbrush every three months, so having a few to hand will ensure that this gets done.
3. Make Tooth-brushing Time Fun
Even the most well-behaved of kids can get a bit bored brushing their teeth and may show reluctance when tooth-brushing time comes around.
However, it is surprisingly easy to make regular brushing and flossing fun with a few simple tricks. You could, for example:
- Play two-minute songs to ensure your child brushes for an adequate amount of time. Setting them this challenge injects a sense of playfulness into the process of brushing.
- Purchase some stickers and a reward chart. It is a truth universally acknowledged that kids love stickers, and rewarding them with shiny new ones is a great way to encourage them to keep up good oral hygiene practices.
- Purchase some fun toothbrushes. There are plenty of playful toothbrushes out there for kids. From Disney-themed to superhero-themed, there are bound to be some options out there that your child will love.
4. Pack a tooth-friendly lunch box
Providing your child with healthy snacks and lunches is not just great for the waistline – it may also protect them from serious tooth decay. When planning what to pack, think about including grains, cheese, milk, yoghurt and plenty of fresh fruit and veg.
A little added sugar here and there is unlikely to do much harm, but make sure you educate your child about making balanced choices. This is particularly relevant if they eat food from the school cafeteria and have to make their own decisions every day. Kids are easily swayed by what their peers are eating, so it may be a good idea to let them know that a nutritious lunch is much cooler than tooth decay!
5. Buy your child a mouth guard if they take part in sports
Sports are a great way for your child to make friends, learn new skills and get fit and healthy. However, many sports inevitably come with a few occupational hazards. To ensure your child’s teeth are well protected during sports, invest in a new mouth guard. They are cheap, portable and potentially tooth-saving. Just make sure your child keeps it clean!