With the school year looming on the horizon, parents are busy preparing their children for productive and rewarding experiences. Even if your children have the right wardrobe, sports equipment and school supplies, there’s still one more important thing to consider: their oral health.
When left untreated, tooth decay can lead to problems with speaking, eating, playing and learning. Unfortunately, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in this country. To protect your child’s oral health, his or her back-to-school checklist should include:
1. A professional dental exam
According to the American Dental Association, dental examinations are just as important for children as immunizations and booster shots. This is because tooth decay often goes unnoticed by parents until it develops into painful problems. If your child’s dentist finds an issue, he or she can provide fluoride treatments or sealants to prevent decay and save a child from discomfort and missed school time.
2. Good dental hygiene
To ward off cavities and gum disease, your child should be brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing at least once. While you’re out buying pencils, notebooks and colored folders, stop by the dental care aisle and stock up on toothbrushes, so you can swap them out every three months or immediately after your child recovers from an illness. The start of the school year is also a good time to go over proper brushing technique with your child, especially if the summer disrupted his or her morning routine.
3. A healthy diet
As your kids head back to school, commit to packing their lunch boxes with portable healthy snacks and lunch items. These include cheese, milk, grains, yogurt, fruit and raw vegetables. If your children eat at the cafeteria, make sure to go over healthy food choices before their first day at school.
4. A sports mouthguard
If your child participates in organized sports, ensure he or she is equipped with a properly fitted mouthguard. If you aren’t sure what type of mouthguard to buy, talk to the coach and your dentist to get recommendations for the specific sport or athletic event.