Back to School Tips for Keeping Teeth Healthy

With the kids heading back to school this month, it is a great time to revisit the normal parts of their routine that make keeping teeth healthy a habit.

Encouraging Healthy Habits

Teaching children to brush and floss regularly can lead to a lifetime of healthy teeth. In many cases, the routine of the school day provides even more opportunities to incorporate healthy brushing and tooth health maintenance.

If your kids are already brushing before they go to bed and after breakfast in the morning and don’t have any cavities, they probably don’t need to take their toothbrush to school with them. But if your dentist has recommended a mid-day brush, encourage them to brush immediately after lunch.

“Bacteria has to be attached to the teeth for them to decay,” Dr. Diesburg says. “That fuzziness you get on your teeth — especially along the gum line where kids can miss when they brush — that’s where cavities will frequently grow,” he adds.

Water is Your Friend Against Decay

Whatever the state of your children’s mouths, encouraging them to drink water after meals and snacks will do wonders in helping them maintain overall health and tooth health. Talk to your children about drinking water after meals and snacks. Water plays an important role in removing bacteria from the mouth. A simple trip to the water fountain after lunch can wash out much of the debris, food residue that bacteria feed off of to make cavities.

“I don’t know why we don’t talk about the importance of water more,” Dr. Diesburg says.

Send Healthy Foods and Snacks

The quality of food your child eats at school will affect his or her likelihood of having cavities, but it is not as simple as not sending them with a lunchbox filled with candy. We warn against sending too many highly processed carbohydrates such as baked goods, which tend to encourage bacteria to grow on the teeth because they are broken down into sugar. A better idea is to always send some kind of high-fiber snack or side dish that “scrubs” the teeth naturally, or to send food that is relatively low in sugar.

Some great examples include:

  • carrots
  • celery
  • string cheese
  • nuts
  • popcorn
  • beef jerky
  • yogurt without too much sugar

While they are some of kids’ favorite snacks, pretzels and crackers are not the best snack for your teeth. Your saliva breaks them down into sugars, which bacteria can use to make the acid that eats holes in your teeth.

Oral health begins at an early age. With the right  routines, parents can help their kids create a lifetime of healthy habits and the foundation for great adult teeth.

Are you concerned about your child’s oral health habits? Talk to Dr. Diesburg about it. 503-472-2222

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