Just about a month after school started here in Fort Atkinson, and hopefully your family has settled into their routine. However, this is about the time when parents often transition from relief that their children are back in school to worry that they aren’t doing enough to make sure their kids are healthy and safe at school.
When it comes to your child’s oral health, the Fort Atkinson family dentists at BKS Dental can help. Family dentistry is best when it’s preventive, and you can make a big difference here. Here are some tips to make sure your kids’ teeth and gums stay healthy, even when they’re spending most of their day away from home.
Maintain Your Healthy Routine at Home
We know that your days are so much busier during the school year. Everyone has to get up earlier, go to bed earlier, and there’s so much rushing in between.
Still, it’s important to make sure your kids are taking care of their oral health. Get them started on their bedtime routine early enough that there’s always time to brush and floss. Get everyone up and eating breakfast early enough that they can brush their teeth before leaving the house.
We know it’s not easy, but you’ll feel better knowing that, at least, your child is starting and ending their day right.
Encourage Healthy Lunches
A healthy lunch can also make a big deal on your child’s oral health. If you’re making their lunches at home, supply them with good, balanced nutrition. Try to limit added sugars and processed grain. Resist the temptation to send them a dessert with lunch every day. If your child ends their lunch with a sugary snack, the sugar clinging to their teeth will encourage bacterial growth on their teeth all afternoon.
Don’t send them soda or even fruit juice to drink with lunch. These drinks are sugary and acidic, and can attack your child’s teeth. Fruit juices do contain vitamins, but juicing concentrates the acid and sugar, while losing the pulp that helps make fruit healthy. Your Fort Atkinson family dentists know that water is often the best beverage to send with lunch.
Oral Hygiene After Lunch
It’s probably too much to hope that your child will brush their teeth after eating lunch. Even if you diligently pack their toothbrush every day, they likely won’t have the inclination to–and may not have the time to–brush their teeth. If they do brush after lunch, it’s okay if they brush without toothpaste. This makes it simpler, plus, with toothpaste it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Brushing twice a day with toothpaste is enough.
However, there are other ways to help your child keep their teeth clean after lunch. Chewing sugar-free gum after eating is highly effective at clearing food debris and bacteria from teeth. We also know, though, that Fort Atkinson schools aren’t always happy with gum chewing. Check with your school to make sure when your child can and can’t chew gum.
If your child can’t chew gum at school (or doesn’t like gum), they can get a similar effect by ending their lunch with a crunchy, fibrous vegetable. Carrots and celery work well to help clean teeth at the end of a meal.
Even just rinsing their mouth with water after eating can help.
Recommend Healthy Choices
Just because you don’t send sugary snacks with your child doesn’t mean they won’t find them at school. Especially high school students have access to vending machines at school and/or have the freedom to get off campus for snacks.
Encourage them to avoid too many sugary snacks. Also tell them that if they are going to eat something sweet, it’s best for it to be something that they eat all at once, rather than nibble at all day. Spreading out sugar consumption greatly magnifies its ability to cause tooth decay.
Along similar lines, if your child consumes caffeine, steer them toward less tooth-damaging forms. Common caffeine sources ranked from most tooth-friendly to least are:
- Unsweetened coffee or tea
- Sweetened coffee or tea
- Energy drinks
While coffee and tea are acidic, they are not so acidic that they are especially damaging to teeth. When coffee or tea mixes with saliva, it essentially neutralizes the acids. Note that this is different for fruit-flavored teas and some herbal teas (such as hibiscus), which can be highly acidic and damaging to teeth.
Adding sugar to coffee or tea makes them more damaging to teeth, especially if you sip it over the course of the day. It’s also worth noting that the pre-sweetened coffee drinks from coffee shops can have as much as 20 teaspoons of sugar in one cup! These should be consumed sparingly.
Pop tends to be highly acidic. Even if your child is drinking diet pop, they should not drink too much. And, as with other sugary snacks, it’s best to consume them quickly rather than sip them over time.
Energy drinks are very high in caffeine, which makes them a bad choice for children, anyway. However, these drinks are also highly acidic and are very erosive to tooth enamel.
Schedule Appointments with a Fort Atkinson Family Dentist
As we’ve said, we know that your days are busier now than when school is out. However, it’s important to make sure your child is seeing their family dentist regularly. At BKS Dental, our Fort Atkinson family dentists are highly accommodating. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we remain open until 7pm to make it easier for families to get an appointment that fits their schedule.
At your child’s appointment, we can check their teeth for decay to head off major dental problems. Professional cleanings help their teeth stay healthy, and preventive treatments like dental sealants can protect their teeth and help them stay healthy.
If you are looking to help your child maintain good oral health–an important foundation of overall health–let BKS Dental help. Please call (920) 563-7323 or use our online form today to request an appointment at our office in Fort Atkinson, across from Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts near the Johnson Bank.