5 Ways to Set Up Healthy Back-to-School Tooth Care Routines

5 Ways to Set Up Healthy Back-to-School Tooth Care
Posted on 09/20/2019
Group of children smiling

The transition from summer vacation to school often comes with a lot of changes. Children have to prepare for their day earlier in the morning. Homework and after-school activities change the daily schedule. Even eating habits change.

As children and parents adjust to the new routine, a focus on dental hygiene should exist as well. Starting a routine on dental hygiene will help a child develop habits that go well into adulthood and results in fewer problems during the school year.

1. The Morning Routine

Mornings are often hectic during school days as children shower, dress, and enjoy breakfast before heading out the door. One of the most important aspects of a morning routine is brushing teeth.

To ensure the healthiest smile, a child should brush their teeth immediately after breakfast each day. By building up a pattern of breakfast and brushing, it will soon come naturally for a child. During the first few months of school, set a reminder using a sticky note system.

For example, you could place a sticky note with a toothbrush image on either the child's bedroom door or the door they exit the house out of. With the note, the image will be the last thing they see and act as a reminder of tooth brushing.

2. School Snacks

Bringing a toothbrush and toothpaste to school is not common practice, so when you think about it, a child will go from around 7 to 3 without brushing their teeth, flossing, or using any type of oral care.

This means that the snacks they bring to or have at school will have a big impact on the way their teeth are treated. Instead of a sugary treat, select or encourage options that not only provide nutrients but also help clean teeth at the same time.

For example, carrot sticks will help remove plaque and tartar build-up as a child crunches into the veggie. Other crunchy foods like apples or celery help clean teeth as well. Apples may also reduce the amount of bad breath a child has during the school day.

Fruit like strawberries contains malic acid, which could help remove any stains on teeth. Plan snacks for the week with your child so you can both choose items that are nutritious and something they will enjoy eating.

3. School Drinks

Encourage your child to drink plenty of water during the school day, especially after meals. The water helps remove any sugar or other substances from the teeth and will help keep the gums healthy as well. Without access to proper oral care tools, have your child avoid sugary drinks.

If milk is an option, try to have the child stick to a white milk option as opposed to a flavored milk like chocolate or strawberry. Once a habit of drinking white milk begins, this will be easy to maintain and can even extend to the drinks at home.

Other drinks like a sports drink should be for after-school activities or a time where a child could easily rinse their mouth or get a quick brush session in.

4. Sugar-Free Gum

For children in middle school or above, check out the school's gum policy. Sending your child with some sugar-free gum to school comes with several benefits to their oral health. One of the main benefits is fresh breath, but gum chewing goes beyond just creating fresh breath.

Other benefits of a sugar-free gum include producing saliva in the mouth. The saliva will help remove acids off teeth and keeps the enamel strong. Ideally, your child should chew the sugar-free gum shortly following the end of lunch. The gum could also remove pieces of food lodged between teeth or in gums.

As a child goes through the habit of having gum after lunch, this may become one of the best ways to clean their mouth during a school day. Before packing the gum, be sure to double-check with a school or administrator so the presence of gum does not become an issue.

5. The After-School Routine

When a child gets home from school, the after-school routine will extend their proper oral care. If your child craves a sweeter snack or treat, right after school is the best time to have it. Once they have the snack, they can brush their teeth, floss, and use other products like mouthwash.

If your child does not eat an after-school snack, then they should brush soon after arriving home. This is another routine the child can eventually develop into a habit as they go through the school year.

While all of these routines may seem like a lot at first, everyone simply needs to get used to the adjustment. School years bring an adjustment for homework, wake up times, and school in general, so adding proper oral care into the mix should not feel like a big deal at all.

For more information on your child's dental care, contact us at the Dentistry for Children & Adolescents. Not only can we provide professional cleanings, but we can also teach your child the proper way to brush and the importance of having an oral hygiene schedule.


Dentistry for Children & Adolescents

  • Edina Office - 7373 France Ave. S., Suite 402, Edina, MN 55435 Phone: 952-831-4400
  • Burnsville Office - 14050 Nicollet Ave., Suite 100, Burnsville, MN 55337 Phone: 952-435-4102
  • Eden Prairie Office - 6385 Old Shady Oak Road, Suite 150, Eden Prairie , MN 55344 Phone: 952-932-0920

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