After a wonderful season of fun in the sun, for many families, it’s time for the kids to head back to school. With busy routines starting to gear up, sports practices, and everyone’s favourite, homework, it can be hard to find the time to keep up with proper dental hygiene. Dr Kevin Lee and his team at George Street Dental have some tips to help you and your child stay healthy with big smiles throughout the year.
Brushing your teeth at school
To maintain good dental hygiene, George Street Dental recommends brushing at least three times a day – morning, day, and night, in addition to flossing at least once a day. Here are some ideas to help keep their teeth clean between meals when they’re at school:
- If your school permits it, encourage your child to brush after lunch. You may want to pack a travel sized toothbrush and toothpaste along with their meal.
- Brush as soon as possible after having sugary foods and drinks, except when having acidic foods. Don’t brush right away. Wait for about 30 minutes to allow the natural saliva from your mouth to clean off some of the acid. Brushing too soon can cause unnecessary enamel wear on the teeth. The reason is that acid temporarily softens teeth enamel, thus brushing too soon could scratch and do more damage to teeth. Allow some time for the acid to be washed, so that brushing will remove the unwanted food bits while minimizing the abbraision to the teeth surface.
- Drinking water helps to wash away some surface bacteria and loose food particles.
- If gum chewing is allowed at your school, chewing sugar-free gum is a good way to ‘brush’ teeth surfaces and freshen up your breath
If your child was not able to brush while at school, make it one of the first things they do when they get home.
Healthy Lunches and Power Snacks
Getting the right amount of energy from a balanced meal helps your child focus on their work and not their stomachs. Trade in those high-sugar sodas and pops, for low sugar and healthier drinks like water, milk, or natural juices with no added sugars. Here are some other healthy snack ideas
- Calcium is one of the most essential nutrients for keeping strong and healthy teeth, and can be found in dairy foods. Try adding a slice of cheese to your sandwich, drinking a glass of milk, or top a cup of yogurt with fruit and dry cereal to help increase your intake without much effort. Cheese also has the added benefit of enzymes that help neutralize the bacteria that harm your teeth after a meal.
- Fresh vegetables can be rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants – all essential for keeping your body healthy. Gnawing on some fresh carrots, broccoli, celery or cucumbers can help scrape plaque from your teeth and remove some of the odor-causing bacteria.
- Using a straw when drinking to minimize sugar contact with teeth. Better yet, limit the intake of sugary and carbonated beverages like pop and artificially sweetened juices
- Avoid packing foods that may stay on teeth surfaces after a meal, like caramels and chocolates; though sweet to the palate it may not be for your teeth – plus, expect a sugar crash in the afternoon
- Prepackaged snacks like applesauce can be a quick and convenient add-in to any lunch bag, but check the nutritional content and sugar levels. Look for the more natural and vitamin rich ones with no added sugars.
With just a few small adjustments to your daily routine and meal preparations, you can help your child maintain good oral hygiene and still enjoy meals that are nutritious and delicious. And don’t forget about picture day, make an appointment with us today to schedule a routine teeth cleaning and whitening. Give them something to smile about when they go back this fall!