Back to School Dental Checklist: 8 things to help your child SHINE this year!
As summer vacation comes to an end, it’s time to prepare for the new school year! While you are shopping for school supplies, and organizing fall schedules don’t forget to prioritize your child’s oral health. A healthy smile not only boosts confidence but also contributes to your child’s overall well-being. We know you have a million things on your to-do list, so we put together a simple back to school dental checklist to make sure that nothing gets forgotten this year!
Here’s our Back to School Checklist at a glance:
- Fine-tune Your Child’s Oral Hygiene Routine
- Pack Healthy Lunches and Snacks
- Invest in Reusable Water Bottles
- Replace Your Child’s Toothbrush
- Stock up on Quality Oral Care Products
- Schedule a Dental Checkup with a Dentist Near you
- Schedule an Airway Evaluation
- Take Your Child to be Fitted for a Mouth Guard
1. Fine-tune Your Child’s Oral Hygiene Routine
Take a look at your child’s oral hygiene routine, chances are it has become a little too relaxed due to busy summer schedules. No guilt trip here! Let’s just focus on getting back on track!
We recommend that your children
- Mouthrinse (only at nighttime)
- Bonus oral probiotic (at nighttime) to promote good bacteria in their mouth.
It’s always a good idea to double-check their technique to provide any additional guidance as we head into the school year, and remember kids younger than eight still need help brushing their teeth!
We also know how chaotic school mornings can be. To help your mornings go smoothly we created a free printable that will help you and your family implement a simple morning routine. The printable has a picture for each task that needs to be completed by your child. As they move through their routine they can slide the picture over to the “finished” section. Our kids love being able to keep track of their morning tasks, giving them a feeling of control over their day and helping them to stay focused. When your child knows what to expect each day, you’ll hopefully receive less pushback and more cooperation!
Even though a good routine can work miracles, early school mornings are a special form of torture for some of us, and sometimes the routine goes out the window! When the inevitable happens and the family is late and rushing to work and school, keep an emergency set of toothbrushes in their backpack to use in the car or on the bus. Even if they do not use toothpaste, brushing alone will still help disrupt the biofilm to prevent unhealthy bacteria from populating.
2. Pack Healthy Lunches and Snacks
Making sure that your child is getting healthy food options is probably already at the forefront of your mind. What we feed our children can be a controversial topic! We all know that our children need healthy food options like fresh fruits and vegetables, protein, and good sources of calcium for strong teeth. We also know that many kids are picky eaters, and sometimes you just need to make sure your child is fed! Here are our three most important back-to-school lunch tips.
- First, keep trying! It takes an average of 15-20 exposures before a child will try or like a new food. It is your job to offer it, it is your child’s job to choose whether or not to eat it. Try meal prepping at the beginning of the week to avoid stressful mornings, and make it fun! Add a dip for vegetables, or make fruit kabobs. If it looks fun and they are involved in the process, then they are more likely to want to eat it!
- Our second piece of advice is to avoid cariogenic foods or cavity-promoting foods. These are simple carbohydrates that cavity-causing bacteria love to eat and that easily stick to your teeth. Have you ever eaten an Oreo and found that you are picking black cookie pieces from your teeth for hours after? That’s a cariogenic food. If you know me, you know I do not believe in completely eliminating fun foods for our kids. We aren’t saying to never pack goldfish in your child’s lunch (even great foods like dried fruits are super sticky!), but when possible, try to swap these out for fresh foods. This leads us to our last tip.
- Include xylitol gum, mints, or candy in your child’s lunch box. Especially if their lunch that day is less than ideal (it’s going to happen, and that’s okay!). After they are done eating, they can munch on these to promote saliva flow, balance the ph, and reduce bad bacteria. And your child will love it! It’s a win-win!
3. Invest in Reusable Water Bottles
Drinking plenty of water not only keeps your child hydrated but also helps fight cavities! Water helps to wash away food particles and aids in saliva production. When you have sufficient saliva, it bathes the tooth and helps to replenish calcium in the teeth. If your child is struggling to drink enough liquid, avoid giving them juice or drink mixes as these will lower the PH level and can increase their risk of cavities. Water helps restore the mouth’s ph balance in order to fight acid-producing bacteria.
Instead, try making drinking water fun! Take them shopping to pick out a special school water bottle. They could choose one that has their favorite characters or design, or they could buy fun stickers to personalize it with. Bonus points if the water bottle is clear so your child can track how much water they are drinking throughout the day. Most importantly, be an example of good habits for your child and teach them about the importance of drinking water throughout the school day.
4. Replace Your Child’s Toothbrush
While you are out shopping for new school clothes, add a new toothbrush to the cart for your child! Toothbrushes should be replaced every three to four months (waiting until their cleaning appointments every six months is too long!), or sooner if bristles show signs of wear.
The start of the new school year is the perfect prompt to remind you to replace them. If their cleaning appointments fall near the beginning of school and they will get new toothbrushes then, Winter and Spring break are other good markers for replacement.
5. Stock up on Quality Oral Products
Products are an important part of your child’s oral health routine! Take advantage of back-to-school sales and stock up on dental supplies so that you are proactive in maintaining a great oral hygiene routine.
Quality products can make a big difference! You know we love using Elementa’s tooth gel and mouth rinse to fight cavities. Elementa has a nanosilver technology that helps break through bad bacteria and deliver calcium to the teeth! Use RESTORATION20 for 20% off their products.
We also recommend avoiding using flossers and encourage you to transition your family to start using string floss. String floss can conform around teeth and beneath gums to remove plaque. We love Coco Floss, they are sustainably made from BPA-free recycled plastic and have fun scents to make flossing more fun for kids!
Thirty minutes after using Elementa tooth gel and rinse we would recommend giving your kids a chewable probiotic, our kids love Super Teeth chewable probiotics.
For more products we love, visit our stan store.
6. Schedule a Dental Checkup with a Dentist Near You
Parents have a lot on their minds when it comes to their children. Annual wellness visits, sports schedules, and various therapies. I get it. It’s A LOT. Then you add on making sure your child gets a dental visit every six months?! If this feels overwhelming, try always scheduling a dental check-up before the start of the school year. While you are getting ready to shop for school supplies, it will also prompt you to schedule an exam and can help you keep track of the length of time since your child’s last visit. If there ends up being any issues that need to be addressed, they can also be attended to without your child missing any school.
7. Airway Evaluations
Back to school can make your child extra tired! If you have noticed your child having a hard time paying attention and waking up tired even though they slept plenty of hours, your child could have an airway issue. Other signs are mouth breathing, grinding, tooth wear, consistent congestion, and behavioral problems. A dentist focused on airway or a myofunctional therapist can help you get started. Resolving airway issues will help your child have a better night of rest, focus better in school, and prevent so many issues down the road. The earlier these things are caught the easier they are to fix. Left alone, these problems can turn into serious issues later on in your child’s life. Here is a link to an airway provider lookup. Not sure if your child is a mouth breather? Here is a helpful video that shows an example of mouth breathing in children.
8. Mouthguard for Sports
If your child participates in sports or other physical activities, consider getting a custom mouthguard. Facial injuries are one of the most common injuries in sports, and can be one of the most costly! Mouthguards protect teeth and gums from injuries and can prevent dental emergencies. Check with a dentist near you to see if a custom mouthguard is recommended based on your child’s activity level and age.
Follow our back to school checklist and you and your kids are going to ROCK this school year.
And if you’re wanting more help preventing cavities, we’ve got you! Click below to get The Ultimate Guide on How To Cure Cavities to set your kids up for success this school year. We believe in you!
Restoration Dentistry is located in Meridian, ID, and we happily welcome folks from neighboring areas.