As the summer starts to wind down and the days get shorter, parents’ thoughts turn to back-to-school season. They make lists of supplies they need to purchase, see if backpacks can last one more year, and shop for school clothes that will stay clean for approximately one recess.
But when your mind has turned to this mentality of getting chores done, it’s actually a great time to take care of another one of your children’s needs: maintaining their oral health. If you’re not already burnt out with list-making, here are a few quick tasks you can take care of this time of year to make sure your children’s teeth are healthy.
Find out what’s on our list!
Our top five tasks for improving your kids’ oral health as they go back to school are below.
- Schedule a check-up. With vacations, camps, and general care-free fun, summer’s not usually the time we take care of chores and preparations—it’s the time to enjoy the rewards of our hard work over the rest of the year. But when school starts back up, why not knock one more to-do off the list? Schedule an appointment for your kids to visit the dentist for one of their two annual cleanings and check-ups. In fact, if your child is seven or older, you may want to schedule a first consultation with an orthodontist as well.
- Establish healthy routines. As we move out of summer and back into the day-to-day grind of the school year, families gradually drift back into their regular routines. We enforce bedtimes a little more diligently, and set alarms to get up on time in the morning. While you’re slipping back into all those familiar patterns, it’s a great time to remind little ones of the importance of a daily oral hygiene routine—brushing twice, in the morning and before bed, and flossing at least once a day.
- Replace toothbrushes and get new supplies. Really, you should replace toothbrushes every three months, so if you haven’t bought a new toothbrush (or toothbrush head for an electric brush) since school let out… now’s the time. It’s also a good time to make sure you’re stocked up on dental floss, toothpaste, and any other supplies, like a fluoride rinse, that might help keep your kids following their routine.
- Eat healthy lunches and snacks. It’s basically impossible to pack enough snacks in a school-age child’s backpack or lunch box. If you pack it, they will eat it. Instead of loading them down and sugaring them up with cookies, chips, and sugary drinks, pack healthy snacks—carrot sticks, fresh fruit, string cheese, and good old water are kid-friendly and tooth-friendly.
- Protect against injuries. If your child plays sports after school, it’s a good idea to make sure they use a mouth guard. Even if you don’t want to splurge for a custom-fitted mouth guard from your dentist’s office, boil-and-bite mouth guards can offer significant protection if they fit properly. And since the little ones do grow quickly (and that includes their jaws!), it’s best to replace them frequently to ensure the most protection possible.