New backpacks, new books – as the kids go back to school it’s a great time for parents to establish great new routines and that includes oral health habits! For dentists, it’s a chance to reinforce messages around healthy snacks, regular check-ups, and of course, the importance of correctly fitting gum shields for those sporty kids. Here are top five tips you can pass on to parents and kids to ensure they stay smiling all the way to the end of term…
Get in a routine
Routine is the key to school success (morning routines, homework routines, laundry routines!) and it’s no different when it comes to dental health. Depending on the age of your child, they should be having routine check-ups every 6-12 months and matching this routine with the school term is a great way to remind you to make those appointments – get into the habit of booking dental checks at the same times each year and you’re less likely to forget! Remember that dental treatment is free for all under 18s in the UK on the NHS, so there’s no excuse for appointment dodging!
Two times two equals healthy teeth! That’s two minutes of brushing, twice a day – the most basic principle of good oral health and one that parents and kids still struggle with. It’s really important to get children in the habit of brushing twice daily, so make sure you model good behaviour, use prompts such as a little sign in the bathroom to remind them, and if all else fails – nag!
Choose healthy breaks
Most school children bring a small snack with them to school for morning break and lots of schools have healthy eating policies that discourage them from bringing foods that are high in sugar and salt, such as chocolate and crisps. But don’t forget that sugar is lurking in many supposedly ‘healthy’ foods too – cereal bars and yoghurts are among the worst culprits. You can make your own healthy breaks by adding chopped fruit to unsweetened yoghurt, or bake low-sugar cookies and muffins. For a speedy snack, fruit or crackers and cheese is a perfect choice. Send plain water or milk to drink, as this will help to neutralise acid in the mouth between meals.
Can the energy drinks
Legislation is on the way to ban the sale of energy drinks to UK kids under 16, but in the meantime it’s important to educate your children about the damaging effects of these extremely sugary drinks. Peer pressure is very real and if all your child’s friends are chugging sugar-laden fizzy drinks, they’ll want to do the same – it’s unlikely you’ll be able to stop them completely, but by making sure they’re informed, you can encourage them to make healthier choices and save the energy drinks for an occasional treat.
If your child will be playing contact sports at school, mouth protection is an absolute must and a custom moulded mouthguard offers optimal comfort and protection. A well-fitting mouthguard not only protects the teeth from knocks and chips, it also protects the soft tissues of the gums, tongue and face, and can help to redistribute the forces from a head injury, reducing the severity of a concussion. Custom mouthguards are made using impressions or intraoral scans and will allow your child to speak and breathe easily when worn, as well as being easy to keep clean.