Back to School Oral Health Tips

Brush Before Breakfast

While it may be ideal to brush your teeth following breakfast, sometimes we are all too rushed in the morning to remember to complete this task.  Since so many children eat on the way to school, they may miss out on fulfilling the CDA mandate to brush twice a day.  Brushing right when you wake up in the morning can help solve this problem.

Do as I say AND do as I do

Our children are very observant and will mimic our actions. If they see you give something importance, they are more likely to do the same. Make it a point to brush and floss with your children every morning and night. You will be able to properly supervise and have some quality family time.

Make oral hygiene fun

Let them pick their toothbrush and toothpaste.  It will excite them to brush their teeth and hopefully encourage them to brush on their own. Make sure that the toothbrush they select has soft bristles and is also the correct size for them.  Make sure they brush for a full two minutes. You may have to experiment with toothpaste flavors—mint may be too strong for children. Other fun tips:

  • Use a sticker reward system – reward them for a job well done
  • Play music – a fun two-minute song is all they need
  • Provide a kid-friendly floss – there are Y-shaped devices, colourful floss that make flossing more fun

Pack a healthy, teeth friendly lunch

The foods we eat greatly affect our dental health. Pack fresh vegetables and fruits for a vitamin-rich energy supply. Make sure the lunch has protein-intense foods, as that will help cut down the cravings for sugary foods and drinks. Cheese is especially good for your child’s teeth because they neutralize acids and help protect teeth. Avoid sugary drinks and sodas, as they are acidic and erode tooth enamel. Some examples include:

  • Choose real fruit - Fruit snacks are popular among kids, but not their dentists. These sticky snacks can cling to teeth and encourage plaque. Go for the real deal instead. Offer slices of banana, apple and strawberries, or no-prep options like grapes and mandarin oranges.
  • If offering milk, plain milk is best - milk is a great source of calcium. But flavored options, like chocolate or strawberry milk, contain added sugars that can cause decay.  To make plain milk more fun, you can try adding a drop of food coloring. If your kids don’t like milk, string cheese is another good dairy option.
  • Skip starchy snacks - Salty snacks like pretzels, chips and crackers may seem OK for teeth because they’re low in sugar, but don’t be mistaken. Simple starches can be just as bad as sweets, if not worse. These snacks break down into a sticky goo, coating teeth and causing cavities. Try sunflower seeds, baby carrots, hard-boiled eggs and chunks of cheddar cheese instead
  • Choose colourful vegatables – Kids are more likely to eat snacks that look appealing, and the different colors feature different vitamins and minerals. Red and orange veggies are usually high in vitamin C (good for gums), while leafy green vegetables are good sources of calcium (for strong teeth). Consider finger foods such as cherry tomatoes, red and orange bell peppers,  and steamed broccoli, or snap peas and edamame.

Mouth guard if your child plays sports

Sports are a fundamental part of school. However, to ensure a safe and happy experience, it’s important that your child wears a mouth guard when participating in a sports activity to protect their teeth against damage. Discuss customized mouth guards with your Paediatric Dentist and get one as soon as possible so your child is ready to play safely when they return to school.

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