Getting Back to School and Dental CareBy Andrew Michael Buehler, DMD
School is back in full swing, and that means your kids are busy again – and not just in school but also fully involved with sports, clubs, band practices, etc. And while it may be nice to have your kiddos out of the house and on the go, all that activity means that time is at more of a premium – which means they may forget to do a few things important to their health, such as daily brushing and flossing.
The transition back to school and extra-curricular activities can also have a real effect on their bodies – including their dental health.
In other words, parents and guardians need to be especially vigilant about their kids’ oral health at this time of year.
So, what can you do to make sure your little ones – and even the big ones – maintain their dental care? Let’s take a closer look:
Make sure you establish a routine
With late practices and meetings once again a more frequent part of your lives, it’s easy to come home and rush to eat and get to bed. Don’t let your kids do so and forget to brush and floss before going to sleep! Make sure they have an established routine and stick to it. Doing so will help them maintain that approach throughout their lives. And don’t let them rush through their oral health care – that means they should brush for a full two minutes every time. For younger kids, you can even set the routine to music (their favorite song, for example), so that they learn the proper timing. The same goes for the morning, when your kid may initially be dragging from the night before and not interested in doing anything more than the bare minimum. Don’t let them off the hook. Once you make it a routine – good or bad – they’ll stick to it.
Make sure they’re eating/drinking right
With your kids running around from place to place, there’s a good chance that they will be snacking or eating full meals at odd times. That means convenience, and often convenience means fast food or energy bars bought from the grocery store. Both types of foods can wreak havoc on teeth. That is because each are either high in carbohydrates or simple sugars – which are essentially the same thing. They both stick to your teeth and promote decay and the formation of cavities. The same goes for sports drinks, which have plenty of sugar and the added element of acids that can eventually eat through tooth enamel if consumed too often. The best alternative is to eat healthy, homemade snacks and avoid sugar-based sports drinks altogether. As a parent, you can prepare – or help your kids prepare – snacks in advance that will keep them going through their busy days. Nuts and raw vegetables smeared with peanut butter are perfect for teeth and providing long-lasting energy. Some fruit is also good for the body – though many of them contain heavy doses of sugar that can still affect teeth. Your kids may also be consuming more sports drinks to help them deal with dehydration and replenish electrolytes, and while that is important to stay hydrated, it is also unnecessary to constantly consume sports drinks. In fact, water is by far better for you. So, make sure your kids are drinking more water than anything else. Water also acts as a cleansing agent for your teeth, so if your kids have no choice but to eat/drink sugary foods, at least drink water immediately after to help clean their teeth. This practice could save them from suffering the worst of the effects.
Use the right mouthguard
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry notes that sports incidents account for up to 39 percent of dental injuries and emergencies in children. That said, if your child is playing an impact sport this fall – football, lacrosse, combat sports, etc. – make sure they are wearing custom fit mouthguard. You can obtain these through your dentist or many sporting goods stores or even online, and they are a big improvement over basic mouthguards of the past in protecting your children’s teeth and gums. You may even want to consider having your child wear a mouthguard if they play a sport such as basketball or soccer which are contact – if not necessarily impact – sports. (If they complain, remind them that Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez wears one, as does Steph Curry and LeBron James). Mouthguards also have the added benefit of reducing the risk of concussion.
Get in to see your dental care specialists
Finally, now is the perfect time to have your child’s teeth and/or dental equipment checked. In other words, make sure that your child gets in for their bi-annual dental cleaning and exam, as well as a checkup with the orthodontist if they have braces or may need braces in the future.
A thorough exam and cleaning is crucial for their short- and long-term dental health. Everyone, regardless of age, needs a twice-yearly visit to the dentist, and keeping on top of your child’s dental health is especially important because it: A) Ensures that they have the healthiest situation possible despite things constantly growing and changing inside their mouths, and B) sets the precedent that they need to go to the dentist as they grow up and get out on their own.
The same applies for orthodontists. Children should have an orthodontist checkup by age 7 in order to check their bite and jaw alignment, as well as determine whether braces or other treatments are required.
Contact a dentist now
It is sometimes hard to find dentists to fit your busy schedule, and that is why many offer later office hours – to accommodate whatever is most convenient for parents. At BGW Dental Group, we offer office hours as late as 7 p.m. and have three different locations across northeast Georgia to make things easier on you. We also know how to treat kids. And no matter if they’re crawling, walking, or driving, we know what to look for and how to treat them so that they achieve optimal health and are happy to come back again. Many of our dentists, hygienists, and staff are parents themselves, so we know what it’s like, and we will work with you to determine the best dental care possible.
Just make sure you get in touch with us – or any dentist – to help ensure your child’s oral health for now and the future.