It’s that time of year again and parents and children alike are getting in the “Back-to-School” mode of thinking. Let this be the year for keeping up with excellent dental hygiene, even at school.
Ok, your child starts each morning before school with a healthy breakfast (at least they should). As the research confirms, a nutritious breakfast jump starts the metabolism and is the most important meal of the day. Be sure this breakfast includes needed protein and carbohydrates to assure a good start to the day.
After breakfast comes teeth brushing time. Everyone wants to go to school with a shiny smile and fresh breath. Be sure not to short-cut the brushing and flossing routine just because schedules might be a little more rushed during the school year. A quality electric toothbrush that has a timer, will help with any attempted short cuts. We like the Sonicare Electric Toothbrush. Also leave enough time to floss since flossing is extremely important after each brushing. Brushing, even with a quality brush, will not get between all of the teeth. Flossing does get between the teeth and helps remove any food particles that may be stuck.
Below are some items that can be put in each child’s backpack to help with continued oral hygiene during the school day. Think about these while you are doing your Back-to-School Shopping.
We like to call this “The 3 F’s”.
- Finger toothbrushes–these fit on the finger tip, are made of soft silicone and are disposable. These finger toothbrushes can be found in any grocery store or drug store. They are a much better choice than carrying a regular toothbrush. With a regular brush, it needs to be stored in a toothbrush holder or in a plastic bag—-messy, messy, messy. Disposable is the quick and easy fix and the beauty of the Finger tip toothbrushes.
- Floss Picks–these encourage flossing, even while away from home. There are many different kinds on the market but to make this even more fun, look for the floss picks that are in fun shapes and colors. Some children find these much easier to use than traditional floss that has to be wrapped around the fingers. If it’s easier and more fun, then flossing will almost come naturally.
- Foods–be sure to include foods in the lunch box that promote healthy teeth and gums. For example:
a. Calcium (milk, yogurt, cheese)
b. Fruits and Veggies (apples, oranges, carrots)
c. Fiber (whole grain breads or crackers)
- Fruits and Veggies
- orange slices
- sliced peppers (any color)
- Milk – while almond, rice and soy milk have less calcium, read labels on the brands at your local store for comparison
- Yogurt – Freeze Gogurt so that it thaws for when lunchtime rolls around or pick out a lower sugar, organic kind
- Cheese – cheese sticks or cheese cubes are great
Here are a few more tips to ensure keeping your child’s mouth healthy after the school year gets underway.
- If the finger toothbrushes are left out of the backpack, your child can swish with water after lunch. This will remove some food particles that can be lodged between the teeth and also remove some of the food residue that can turn to sugar, which causes tooth decay.
- Leave the juice boxes out of the lunchbox. Opt for milk or water. Juice contains a lot of sugar, even if it’s a natural sugar (from fruit).
- Our bodies can do marvelous things and can produce a natural tooth cleaner—it’s called saliva. Pack foods that naturally produces more saliva in the mouth, like cheese.
- Leave out “liquid sugar” such as soda (regular or diet), juice and hard candy. The sugar in these become a liquid and saturates the teeth and gets in all of the nooks and crannies.
So there you have it—-3 simple things to include in your child’s backpack each school day to encourage healthy teeth and gums, and of course a bright smile and fresh breath. Also, some helpful tips on what to include in your child’s lunchbox and what to avoid. Keep these tips in your mind when doing your Back To School Shopping or weekly grocery shopping. You know what “THEY” say: something new becomes routine after just 6 short weeks. Include the finger brushes, floss picks and teeth-friendly food in the backpack or lunchbox for 6 weeks and watch it become a habit—-a Totally Healthy Habit.