Back To School: 6 Dental Care Tips From Your Family Dentist

Author: Jeff Salmeri

ma-family-dentist-backDid you know that neglecting your child’s dental health can cause an increase in missed school days? 

In a recent study published in the Journal of Public Health, it was found that between 58 and 80 hours of school were missed due to dental pain and toothaches out of every 100 students between the ages of 5 and 17.  The parents of those students missed an average of 2.5 work days to take their child to their pediatric dentist. 

Benefits of Good Oral Health for Children

  • Better grades
  • Helps prevent gum disease and cavities
  • Improved concentration due to less mouth pain

To lessen the likelihood of your child missing school and you missing work, follow these tips to ensure good oral health:

1. Schedule a Dental Checkup at Least Once a Year

As you get ready to send your child back to school, don’t forget to schedule a pediatric dental care visit with your MA family dentist.  Scheduling your child’s dental visits prior to the start of the school year ensures that you do not forget to make the appointment.  During the visit, you can expect your dentist to look for cavities, decay and discolored teeth, check your child’s mouth for jaw and tooth growth and perform a thorough cleaning and polishing.

2. Teach Your Child to Brush, Floss and Rinse

Until your child reaches the age of 7, monitor his or her oral hygiene habits and teach them to brush their teeth and rinse with mouthwash twice a day.  To help with brushing, you can set a timer for three minutes or download a cell phone application that helps motivate children to brush their teeth.

In addition to brushing and rinsing, you should teach your child how to floss.  This can be accomplished by you flossing your teeth in front of your child and then helping them floss their teeth until they understand the process.

3. Limit Your Child’s Intake of Candy and Sweets

Sticky and sugary candies that are left in the mouth automatically increase the levels of harmful acids, and it can take as long as 20 minutes for the saliva to neutralize those acids.  If your child eats these types of candies multiple times a day, they are increasing their risk for cavities.  Instead of candy or sugary treats, plan for healthy desserts and snacks, including fresh fruits and nuts.

If you plan to give your child candy or sweets, it’s best to do it after a meal.  The previous food eaten provides some protection against the sugar.  Afterwards, instruct your child to go brush his or her teeth to remove the food particles and sugar.

4. Regularly Check Your Child’s Teeth

Many parents do not regularly check their children’s teeth for discoloration, plaque buildup and stains.  These are the precursors to cavities and mouth pain.  If you notice abnormalities with your child’s teeth or red or swollen gums, schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist for a checkup and cleaning.

5. Consider Fluoride Treatments and Sealants

Fluoride is typically added to city drinking water and toothpastes to help strengthen teeth and prevent cavities and tooth decay.  If your child isn’t getting enough fluoride or you have well water, consider a fluoride treatment.  The fluoride is placed on the teeth, usually in the form of a gel.  When the mouth becomes acidic, the gel releases fluoride to help protect the teeth against cavity causing bacteria.

In addition to fluoride treatments, your MA family dentist can apply a sealant to your child’s teeth.  The sealant seals the grooves and dips in the teeth, preventing plaque and bacteria from colonizing and creating decay and cavities.

6. Know How to Handle Dental Emergencies

Occasionally, you will encounter a dental emergency.  Teeth can get knocked out or cracked due to falls or rough play, resulting in the need to provide emergency dental care and visit your MA family dentist.

If your child accidentally knocks out his or her tooth, carefully pick up the tooth without touching the root.  The primary concern is keeping the tooth moist.  This can be accomplished by temporarily putting the tooth back in its socket or placing it between your child’s check and gum while enroute to your pediatric dentist.  If neither of those options are viable, pour a small glass of milk and place the tooth in the glass.

If your child cracks a tooth, have your child rinse with a glass of warm water.  This will clean the tooth and remove any debris in the mouth.  Place a cold cloth against your child’s cheek to stop any swelling or inflammation and call your dentist for further care instructions.

 

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Posted in: Pediatric Dentistry