Back to School: Mouth Healthy Food & Dental Tips for Kids

Back to school time is the perfect opportunity to get into a better routine, whether it’s bedtime or brushing or what they eat. From a dental perspective, here are three things that would make your dentist happy to know you and your child are doing.

Create a Daily Brushing Routine

Did you know that children that have poor dental health tend to miss more school and get lower grades than their peers? Cavities can be prevented, and there are several things you can do to establish good oral health, like teaching your child good oral hygiene. Here’s what your child needs to do to keep their mouth in tip-top shape. 

  • Brush teeth twice a day for two minutes using a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Choose a toothbrush that is soft with a smaller head and bristles so that it fits comfortably in their mouth.
  • Your child only needs a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, and they shouldn’t swallow their toothpaste. 
  • Begin flossing when your child is ready. Try floss picks since they can be easier to hold. 
  • After the age of six, consider using a fluoride rinse. This can help prevent cavities.

Make it Fun

There are many ways to make brushing fun for your child. The American Dental Association (ADA) has a video showing more about cleaning your child’s teeth that is helpful, but here are a few ways to encourage your child.

  • Let your child choose their toothbrush and toothpaste. 
  • Use a timer to help track the two minutes of brushing.
  • Use a rewards system to further encourage your child.
  • Limit sugary foods and aim for healthy lunches and snacks.
  • Explain the benefits of brushing, as well as what happens if they don’t take good care of their teeth.

Dentist Approved Snacks and Lunches

Your child’s diet also plays a key role in their dental health, so it’s important to help your child make good choices. The more frequently your child is exposed to sugary foods, the greater the chance they’ll develop cavities. Tooth-healthy foods are foods rich in calcium, vitamins C and D, and folic acid. 

Tips for Choosing Food

  • Real fruit: go for the real deal, not fruit snacks, juice, or even applesauce. Choose bananas, apples, strawberries, grapes, and other real fruit options.
  • Go plain: drink plain milk instead of sugary flavored milk. Or go for water, but skip the soda or juice.
  • Add color: add veggies to your lunch, which are a good source of vitamins and minerals. The more colorful, the better, as it’s more appealing to kids. Things like steamed broccoli, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, baby carrots, or slices of bell peppers work well.
  • Choose the right crunch: some crunchy starches like chips aren’t great for your teeth because they break down into sticky sugar. Instead, try seeds or nuts. 

Putting it all Together

Here are some ways you can put these ideas together for snacks or lunches:

  • Rainbow Salad: Fill a Tupperware dish with salad and top it with sunflower seeds, nuts, colorful vegetables or fruits, cheese, and some bites of chicken.
  • Cottage Cheese or Yogurt with Fruit: Both come in portable containers and can be topped with berries.
  • Sandwich and Fruit: Whole grain bread with chicken or turkey and some low-fat cheese makes a great sandwich option. Then, add in some crunchy fruits.
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs with Chicken and Veggies: Eggs are a filling option, and add in some diced chicken and colorful veggies for a winning combo.
  • Hummus with Fruit and Veggies: This is a great way to get them to eat their fruits and vegetables. From cucumber slices to apples to carrots and more, anything goes with hummus.

The Bottom Line

No matter what you decide to feed your child or how you go about teaching them how to brush, the important thing is that you’re aware of how to give them the best start at oral health. Remember to visit your dentist regularly so they can handle any problems that come up, and your child will be on the road to a healthy back-to-school mouth.