If you have children in Madison schools, preparing them for the new school year has probably presented some unique challenges this time around. But no matter if you’re gearing up for distance learning, homeschooling, or socially distanced in-person learning, taking a few small steps to invest in your children’s dental health now can set them up for a whole year of healthy teeth, no matter where school is taking place. Here’s a quick back-to-school dental checklist to help your children score an A+ in dental hygiene:
Back-to-School Dental Checklist
- New Toothbrush
- Mid-Day Flossing Break
- Serve Dental Superfoods
- Schedule Check-ups for the Year
Pens, Pencils, Crayons…and a Toothbrush!
Notebooks, pens, pencils, and crayons may be on your child’s school supply list, but what about a toothbrush? Start the year off with a fresh new toothbrush. The American Dental Association recommends replacing toothbrushes every three or four months. If your children have had the same toothbrush all summer long, it’s probably time to look for a new one.
Younger children might be more excited about toothbrushing time if their toothbrushes have favorite cartoon or movie characters on them. If you don’t have a toothbrush holder, look for toothbrushes with suction cups on the bottom. These allow the toothbrushes to stand up on their own to air dry, which minimizes the amount of bacteria that grows on the brush and prevents the spread of germs.
For children older than three years of age, you might consider getting a battery-powered brush or an electric one. Children sometimes lack the coordination to do a good job brushing. Powered toothbrushes can help take up the slack.
Mid-Day Flossing Break
A new school year is the perfect time to develop a good habit. If your children have abandoned flossing over the summer, encourage them to get back at it. Flossing is essential to dental health because it cleans out bacteria between the teeth where toothbrushes can’t reach.
If your children are distance learning or homeschooling, use the extra time at home to their teeth’s advantage. You could try incorporating an extra round of toothbrushing after lunch followed by flossing. You might have more luck instilling the habit if it’s not competing with more urgent matters, like getting dressed before school starts.
Show your children how to floss properly. With a string floss or flosser pick, they should form a C around the side of the tooth, scrape up and down a few times, then move to the next tooth. Remind them not to forget the backsides of their back molars.
Serve Dental Superfoods
If the hazy days of summer ushered in a parade of too-sweet or unhealthy foods, use this new school year as a reset. Focus on packing or serving whole foods, plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein.
Be on the lookout for foods that have a lot of added sugar, like granola bars, sweet cereal, and flavored yogurts. Sugar promotes the growth of cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth.
For more ideas on superfoods that benefit your family’s teeth, read: The Best Snacks for Your Smile.
Schedule Check-ups for the Year
Finally, make sure to schedule your children’s check-ups. Children should be seen every six months for a cleaning and exam, unless special health situations require more frequent check-ups.
Being proactive about scheduling appointments will prevent too much time from passing between appointments, which could result in decay which leads to the formation of cavities. Regular appointments are particularly important for younger children so that they can form a trusting relationship with their dentist.
Affiliated Dentists offers pediatric dentistry in Madison, Wisconsin. To schedule an appointment for your child, please contact us today.
Back-to-School Dental Checklist brought to by Dr. Mark Gustavson