As summer ends and the new school year begins, lazy mornings quickly transition into races to beat the clock. With this increase in stress and chaos, it is very important that kids don’t slack off on their oral hygiene. It is common for tooth care to get lost in the mix of all the hustle and bustle of preparing for school. Children sometimes forget to brush their teeth.

Clean teeth are crucial for good oral health

Proper dental care is vital, even during busy mornings. Kids should also have twice yearly dentist visits, but how they care for their teeth at home by brushing and flossing, with healthy eating, and damage control, will ensure your child’s teeth will stay healthy when they return to school.

Back-to-school tips for healthy teeth

Parents and kids need to be proactive about tooth care for children as they head back to school. There are simple steps that can be taken every day to ensure their teeth remain cavity-free and healthy:

Make sure your child brushes before breakfast

Since there is usually no spare time on school mornings, and some kids eat on the run, waiting to brush after eating seems unreasonable. Brushing when they first wake up ensures they brush at all before school. This will prevent the oral pH level from dropping to an acidic environment. It has been proven that when we brush before a meal, the pH doesn’t drop to a low enough level to form cavities.

Don’t hover or micromanage

Don’t insist on the order of business, for example, some parents have their children wait to brush their teeth until after the bed is made and their hair is brushed. Allow your kid to enough time to clean his or her teeth.

Provide healthy food choices

School lunches are often full of processed and sugar-laden foods. A packed lunch allows for more healthy options, like fruit, chopped vegetables and yogurt. Add a little variety, hummus and pita is a convenient item that offers good nutrition.

Avoid adding starchy snacks to packed lunches

Food items such as pretzels, crackers and potato sticks all contain starch. Starch accumulates on teeth and breeds cavity-causing bacteria. These snacks are often readily available at school, and should be avoided at home. Better options are fresh vegetables and fruit, or dried fruit like raisins or apricots.

Get kids used to drinking water

Always choose water for your kid’s lunchbox. A serving of juice may contain more sugar than your child should have in an entire day. This sugar will linger on tooth surfaces and promote tooth decay. It can also lead to a crash later in the day which may interfere with classwork.

For safety sake, provide protective sports guards

Kids who participate in sports should always wear mouth protection while playing. This is very important, especially if they play baseball, soccer or basketball. A helmet should also be worn when riding a bicycle or a scooter, and while rollerblading or skating.

Seek treatment immediately if your child experiences a dental trauma

When kids suffer a fall on their face, they need immediate attention from a school nurse, followed by a dentist. Some dental issues don’t show up immediately. A seemingly minor injury could affect the tooth root. If a tooth gets knocked out, it is crucial that it be replaced with 30 minutes. Don’t attempt to clean or scrub the tooth, this could destroy the root.

Take special care of braces

It is harder to remove plaque buildup around braces. Brushing can be tricky, but it is very important to clean the teeth to avoid permanent damage. Teenagers who wear braces experience hormonal changes that can alter mouth bacteria.