When we are young, it is hard to understand and comprehend the long-term effects of our health habits. Whether it is a diet of candy or excessive tanning, children do not feel or see the damaging physical consequences of their choices until much farther down the road. The same goes for oral health.
During childhood and through the teenage years, kids may get a cavity here or there. They may even be worried about crooked teeth. However, the damaging effects of discoloration, decay and disease are often times not a cosmetic worry until later on in life. The most important step in prevention of these oral problems is informing your children and teaching them the right way to take care of their smiles. Here are some back-to-school oral hygiene tips and tricks for elementary through college.
Once your kids are in elementary school, it is time for them to begin brushing and flossing on their own. Make sure to teach them the proper method – brush in circles, make lots of bubbles and only use a dab of toothpaste. Here are some ways to make brushing fun:
- Have your student pick out a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste with his or her favorite cartoon character.
- Keep a stepping stool and paper cups by the sink to make rinsing easy.
- Have your student brush for the duration of his or her favorite song (about 2 minutes).
- Floss with fun dental tools, like GumChucks.
- Compliment your kids on how nice their teeth look after brushing.
- Always have a smile on your face while at Beaverton TenderCare to reassure your child that going to the dentist is safe and fun.
Puberty causes all kinds of changes in the body, so good hygiene habits are important for middle schoolers. Be persistent in talking with your teen about plaque, cavities and bad breath. Here are some ways to encourage oral health:
- Leave a sticky note on the bathroom mirror as a reminder to brush teeth before school.
- Buy a bottle of mouth wash and keep a travel sized container on hand, refilling to put in your student’s backpack for a midday refresher.
- Pack a stick of sugar-free gum in your student’s lunch box (if school rules allow). Chewing gum helps remove the fuzzy feeling of plaque from teeth.
- Keep extra toothbrushes on hand at your house for friends who forget to bring a toothbrush to a sleepover.
- Invest in a custom mouth guard for teens starting contact sports.
- All of those baby teeth are long gone! Talk with your TenderCare dentist about teeth straightening.
Your student is becoming more independent every day. Since you won’t be keeping as close of an eye, here are some ways to help your teen earn an A+ in oral hygiene.
- Brush and floss twice a day. Don’t forget your gums and tongue!
- Keep packing travel sized mouthwash and sugar-free gum in your student’s backpack.
- Invest in a high quality electric toothbrush.
- Encourage your teen to keep dental floss in his or her car, gym bag or purse.
- Educate your children on the negative effects of smoking and smokeless tobacco, including bad breath, discoloration of tooth enamel and oral cancer.
- When the time is right, schedule an appointment for those wisdom teeth to be taken out.
By now your student has been taught the basics of brushing, but late nights, a new city and a new diet can take its toll on oral hygiene. Here are some great reminders for college students:
- Replace your toothbrush every three months. Send your student a reminder text at the beginning of each new term.
- Encourage your student to visit the campus health center and find out what resources are available.
- Help your student find a dentist away from home, or schedule a six month cleaning during winter and summer break. Always have an emergency dentist close by.
- A balanced diet is important to your student’s oral health. Educate them on the proper daily nutrition intake. Write out a College Cookbook with healthy, easy to make recipes.
- Encourage your student to limit coffee and energy drinks for late night studying. Dilute energy drinks with water and drink coffee through a straw when possible.
- Look into Invisalign for those of you with Kids who want a straighter smile!
We hope you were able to pick up some good advice from our blog! If you don’t know where to start, you can always start by setting a good example. We wish you and your students a very healthy and bright school year!