Healthy Dental Habits for the New School Year

Healthy HabitsIt’s been a great summer with your kids – no school, no alarm clocks and no homework!

With all the loosening of schedules and rules, there’s a good chance that your children’s dental health routines might have also fallen to the wayside a bit.

While we’d never condone it, we do understand it.  But the important thing is to get back into the swing of things as soon as possible.

Now that the little ones are back to their regular routines, it’s time to make sure that time and effort is being devoted to their dental health on a consistent basis, and we’ve got a few easy tips to help you do just that.

1.  Plan Health Meals

Between vacations, barbecues and the ice cream truck making all too frequent rounds, healthy eating habits might have taken a backseat this summer.  But there’s no time like back-to-school time to whip your family’s diet into shape.

Not only does good nutrition keep your kids healthy now, but it sets them up to continue healthy eating habits for a lifetime.  Each weekend, map out nutritious meals for the upcoming week, including packed lunches.  Incorporate teeth-friendly foods like milk, cheese, strawberries, celery, apples, broccoli and lots of water.  For a treat, toss a piece of sugar-free gum in their lunchboxes, which helps clean teeth after meals.

2.  Stockpile Supplies

A new school year means a return to busy schedules, appointments, permission slips, and endless activities.  It can be hard to find time in there to remember to switch out the kids’ toothbrushes or get more of their favorite toothpaste.  Don’t risk running out – instead, stock up now on what you’ll need for the whole school year.

Bring the kids to the drugstore and have them each pick out a few tubes of toothpaste and packages of floss and 3 toothbrushes, which should last them until the end of the school year if they switch out every 3 months, as is recommended.  You may even want to use a permanent marker to write the start and end dates on the toothbrush boxes so you won’t need to remember when it’s time to toss one out.

3.  Routines & Rewards

If you don’t already have a dental care system in place for your children, then now is the time to start one.  First, you’ll want to make sure that they know the expectations of brushing in the morning, and brushing and flossing at night before bed.  Depending on your kids’ age and independence level, you may have to supervise quite closely for a while.

You should also build in systems that allow them to track their own routines, like a laminated weekly calendar on the wall or mirror that they can write on in dry erase markers on or put stickers on each time they brush and floss.  Then, add rewards for completing every task for the week.  Just avoid rewarding with unhealthy food – instead opt for things like extra screen time or other privileges.

4.  Schedule Dentist Appointments

Once the year gets going, it can be hard to remember to schedule dental appointments.  So while you’re thinking about it, go ahead and schedule the next two checkups (spaced 6 months apart) now and put them on the calendar.


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