When your child is little and home with you all of the time, you can make sure he or she brushes well after every meal and avoids sugary drinks that may harm his or her teeth. When the first year or school rolls around, however, you lose a bit of that control. You're not there to make sure your child brushes after lunch or drinks calcium-rich milk rather than soda. Even the mornings become more chaotic as you're rushing to get out the door to school, and you may forget to have your child brush his or her teeth. Ensuring your child's dental health stays top-notch during that first year of school is not always easy, but with these tips, you can succeed.
Find out what drink options your child's school offers at lunchtime, and talk to him or her about which ones are the healthiest.
Some schools only offer their students milk or water at lunchtime. If this is the case, then you don't have to worry about what your child is drinking, since these are both great choices for dental health. Others schools offer juice or chocolate milk as well, and some may even offer sugary drinks like lemonade. Ask a teacher or administrator at your child's school what the drink options at lunch are, so you know which ones to push your child towards.
Juice, though it sounds like a healthy choice, is actually bad for the teeth since it so high in sugar, so ask your child to avoid ordering it at school unless he or she is going to brush his or her teeth right after lunch.
Send your child to school with a toothbrush.
There may be times when your child does choose juice for lunch or when he or she indulges in a sugary snack that one of the other students has brought to share. You don't want your child to miss out on the opportunities to enjoy these treats, but you also want to ensure the treats don't harm his or her teeth. Sending a toothbrush to school with your child solves this dilemma. Your child can indulge in these treats on occasion, and then brush his or her teeth afterwards.
Make sure your child's teacher knows that your child has the toothbrush and will accommodate its use at your child's request. Some teachers may prefer to keep the toothbrush in their possession and give it to the child when needed.
Send your child a tooth-healthy lunch a few times per week.
Your child may want to enjoy "school lunch" with his or her friends sometimes, but by sending a packed lunch at least some of the time, you maintain a higher level of control over your child's diet. Make sure your packed lunches include items that promote dental health, such as:
- Cheese or yogurt. These foods are high in calcium, which builds healthy teeth.
- Crisp fruits and veggies, like apples and celery. The fiber in these foods helps stimulate saliva production to wash harmful sugars and acids, which can cause tooth decay, away from the teeth.
- Nuts and seeds. These snacks are high in magnesium, another mineral that's important for healthy teeth.
Keep track of your child's morning toothbrushing habits with a sticker chart.
If you find that you're having trouble remembering to have your child brush his or her teeth before heading off to school in the morning, here's a solution. Create a chart with a square for every morning for the entire month. Each time your child brushes his or her teeth, allow him or her to place a sticker in the square for that day. Tell your child that once all of the squares are filled, you'll reward him or her with a small prize. Your child will be excited about toothbrushing and have an easier time remembering to do so before leaving for school.
In addition to following the tips above, make sure your child receives regular dental checkups. The earlier problems like cavities are caught, the easier time you'll have fixing them. For more tips, contact a local pediatric dentist.