Back to School time is fast approaching and parents and children all around the country are sorting out the back to school essentials. But, we need to remember a healthy mouth to try and prevent unwanted absences from school to visit the dentist.
Tooth Decay remains the biggest chronic disease in Irish children. It is estimated that 1 in 3 of those under 5 years old have tooth decay and those 12 years old and above usually have tooth decay in their back teeth. (Smile and Slainte, 2019) Oral health issues in children can lead to a plethora of issues including low self-esteem, a lack of concentration and poor school performance. (HSE, 2009)
Here are some top tips to ensure your child’s teeth are top of the class!
- Dentist Visit: If your child is due a dental exam or cleaning, then book this as soon as possible. Your dentist can carry out any necessary dental treatments and advise on any issues that could cause problems during the school year.
- Change Your Child’s Toothbrush: If your child’s toothbrush is over two to three months old or is worn, it needs to be changed. In addition, ensure that your child is using a child sized toothbrush and it is easy for them to use and reach all teeth.
- Supervise Dental Routine: Ensure your child is brushing their teeth for two minutes, maybe create a game to make it fun or encourage them to brush their teeth with you or other siblings.
- Use a soft bristle brush with a small compact head. Hard bristles can injure gums and wear down tooth enamel.
- Brush at a 45 degree angle to the tooth and gum margin and use gentle scrubbing technique.
- Brush the outer, inner and biting surface of each tooth, including the part close to the gum line.
- Use the front tip of the brush for the inner surface of the front teeth.
- Sports Mouthgaurds: If your child plays contact sports such as rugby or football, dental injuries can be common. Therefore, it would be beneficial to invest in a mouthguard, your dentist or the coach can recommend the best mouthguards to use for your child.
- Pack healthy lunchboxes: Schools tend to have a healthy eating policy in place. A lunchbox that is tooth friendly includes wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, nuts or pulses, protein and dairy, all in moderation and as per healthy eating guidelines for children or teenagers. Ensure that their drink is a healthier alternative too, i.e. water or milk for example.
- Try to eliminate snacking: It is best for children and adults alike to not keep snacking as this can cause repeated acid attacks on the teeth which will increase the risk of cavities. Snacks should be included in meals or breaks to reduce the wear on our teeth.
Issues with a child’s oral health can affect their overall health and wellbeing. Therefore, it is essential that they are ready to return to school with a bright and healthy smile. Always educate your child on the benefits of good oral health and how to care for their teeth the right way.
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