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Kick off the school year with a smile: 3 back-to-school tips

It’s that time again; kids are going back to school. They are set with new clothes, school supplies, and a packed schedule.

Whether your kids are attending school from home or returning to the classroom, things can get hectic when the school year kicks off. With everything going on, it’s important to keep oral health care top of mind.

“When kids are back in school, things can get very busy, very quickly. It’s essential to not forget to keep track of your child’s oral health habits and ensure they are forming a proper routine,” shares Dr. Karen Horace, dental consultant at Delta Dental of California. “Parents need to make sure their child is brushing twice a day–a motorized brush can be helpful–and flossing daily, which can be done more easily with a flossing tool. I would also recommend that you communicate with your child’s dentist about crooked or crowded teeth. When it comes to playing sports, ensure that your child wears a mouth guard for protection.”

Delta Dental of California wants to make sure your children are starting their school year off with a smile. Here are some dental health tips to add to your back-to-school checklist:

1. Make a visit to the dentist

Start the school year right with a dental cleaning and exam. Ask your child’s dentist about sealants and fluoride treatments to prevent decay. These treatments are an easy way to stop cavities before they start. Cavities mean more missed school days for additional dentist visits. A third of children miss school because of oral health problems, according to Delta Dental’s Children’s Oral Health Survey. So, get ahead of the problem with preventative care.

2. Provide a mouth-friendly lunch

As your kids head back to school, pack their lunches with some mouth-friendly options such as yogurt, fruit and veggies. Swap out lunchbox no-no’s with healthy alternatives. Instead of chips or crackers, try nuts. Salty snacks may seem healthy because they don’t contain sugar, but simple starches can be just as bad. These snacks break down into a sticky goo, coating teeth and promoting decay. Avoid candies and granola bars, and instead offer crunchy snacks like celery sticks, baby carrots and cubes of cheddar cheese.

3. Turn brushing and flossing into a fun activity

To keep their mouths healthy, kids need to brush twice a day for two minutes at a time. They should also floss every day, preferably after dinner. Try these tricks to make oral hygiene more exciting:

  • Use a reward calendar. Let your kids place stickers on each day to represent brushing and flossing.
  • Play music. Collect your kids’ favorite two-minute songs and make sure they brush the whole time.
  • Swap places and let them brush your teeth. Play role reversal and let your child brush your teeth and show them how much fun it is to be pampered.
  • Personalize the experience. Have your child pick a themed toothbrush in his or her favorite color.
  • Provide a kid-friendly floss holder. These Y-shaped devices make flossing more comfortable.

It’s important to get your children engaged with their oral health care early on to promote a lifetime of healthy habits. Looking for a fun way to get your kids involved? Share Delta Dental’s  Grin! For Kids magazine with them – they can play fun games and enjoy activities that will teach them about healthy dental habits.

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