Now that the school year is back in full swing and parents and kids alike are adjusting to new schedules and obligations, there is room to focus on good oral health. It’s impossible to know how your kids behave when they’re away from you all day in school, and that extends to what they’re doing to their teeth and gums. Here are some oral health dos and don’ts for the classroom, the field, and home.
Nix the Bad Habits
Mindless doodling may be a side effect of spending most of the day with a pen or pencil in hand, but kids also get into the habit of chewing on those writing instruments when they’re daydreaming or thinking hard. Plenty of broken and chipped teeth come about because people are using their teeth for things other than chewing food.
It can also be a challenge for kids to go from summertime, where they could eat and snack at any point in the day, to school, where there is one meal and not really any room for snacks. Some kids may curb the hunger by opting to suck on hard candy or lollipops throughout the day. This habit is one that will come back to bite you – constantly bathing your teeth in sugar and acid without any sort of brushing or flossing creates a breeding ground for bacteria. And that means cavities. Kids love to miss school, but no one wants it to be because they have to get a tooth filling.
If your kids must gnaw on something or indulge in some sort of snack to keep those stomachs from growling in class, make it a stick of sugar-free gum with xylitol – it’ll keep breath clean, increase saliva production, and the natural sweetener won’t harm teeth.
Smart About Sports
For the athletes in your home, the job of keeping teeth healthy can be a little weightier. If your son or daughter is playing a sport that requires them to wear a mouth guard, be sure it’s fitted properly and is doing its job to protect their smile – especially if it’s a smile that you invested a lot of time and money in for orthodontic treatment. It’s also up to your kid though to be responsible and wear their mouth guard whenever called for.
Don’t allow school to get in the way of regular dental cleanings and exams or orthodontic adjustments. This goes for kids and adults alike.
Cleanings are only twice a year, and they can easily be scheduled for after school. For those who have orthodontia, it’s crucial to keep up with the necessary visits to your dentist to ensure that the teeth and jaw are moving properly and at the expected rate.
For teens and grown-ups who want to spend less time in the dentist’s chair but still wish for straight teeth, talk to your dentist about Invisalign. These invisible aligners are the under-the-radar way to align your smile without looking like a brace-face.
Dr. Carole Sherrod Jewell is a certified Invisalign provider. Contact Red Bank Dentistry to schedule your free initial consultation and find out whether you’re a candidate for Invisalign.