Going back to school often means adjusting to new schedules and routines for both parents and children. But that new routine offers a great opportunity to make sure good oral hygiene is part of your child’s everyday routine.
“I always tell parents that going back to school is a great time to integrate good hygiene into their routine,” says John Fales, a Pediatric Dentist from Olathe and a Treasurer of the Kansas Dental Association. “Every Monday is like every other Monday. The hard part is finding time to make it part of their daily regimen.”
Good dental hygiene doesn’t take that much time, according to Fales and can even be done as a family activity. It’s showing your children what you do that helps establish good habits as they get older.
“Really what we are asking them to do doesn’t take much longer than a television commercial. A very, very easy way to do it is to make it a family affair. Kids are like little sponges and they are paying attention to what their parents do and try to emulate it. So if the kids see their mom or dad brushing their teeth, they will pick up on that.”
Watch Girl’s Sports Mouth Injuries
Over the course of the school year, kids will be involved in various activities, including athletics which have a higher likelihood of injury to the mouth. Parents need to pay attention to the types of activities and that risk. “Any time you are involved in any type of contact sport you need a mouth guard. But I also tell parents that activities where you accelerate your body can be dangerous. People often think of just football and wrestling, but children need to wear a mouth guard for things like skateboarding and jumping on a trampoline.”
Fales says that there are very good off the shelf mouth guards and that generally speaking, the brand names and the more expensive mouth guards are usually better. In addition, he says that the mouth guard should only be used for one season and then replaced the next year.
And while the awareness of soft drink machines in schools has grown, parents often don’t have the same rules at home and this often leads to increasing risk of dental decay.
“Those drinks expose the kids to high levels of carbohydrates and empty calories,” says Fales“ Pediatricians feel that kids are exposed to too much of a carbohydrate solution that leads to higher decay rates in children.”