Food, Drinks, and Your Child's Back-to-School Dental Health

Will the start of the school year affect your child's dental routine? Help your grade school–aged child to maintain a healthy mouth this fall. If you're not sure where to begin, take a look at the do's and don'ts of school-year dental health.

Do Pack Lunch Drinks Wisely

What your child eats and drinks can affect their teeth and gums. If your child brings their own lunch to school, you have the chance to help them eat a healthy mouth diet. Sugary juice boxes and sports drinks are popular lunchtime picks. But these beverages can increase the risk of dental caries (cavities) and gum disease.

The sugar in some types of juices and sports drinks can coat the teeth. This feeds the bacteria in your child's mouth. As the bacteria digest the sugar, the microorganisms release acids that can wear away dental enamel. This results in cavity formation.

Excess sugar combined with oral bacteria can also lead to gum disease. Instead of sugary drinks, stick to plain fluoridated water or milk. Avoid flavored milk products. These also contain sugar. 

Fluoridated water can help your child to maintain healthy dental enamel and decrease the risk of cavity development. If your child prefers milk, this dairy drink has the bone-building calcium your child needs.

Don't Pack Sugary Foods

Along with the drinks in your child's school lunch, the food they eat can also decrease or improve your child's dental health. Cookies, candy, and other sweet treats can lead to cavities. The seemingly healthy fruit gummy snacks your child enjoys can also cause dental issues. Not only are these filled with sugar, but gummy foods also stick to the teeth or between them. This bathes your child's teeth in cavity-causing sugar. 

Skip sugary foods and fill your child's lunch box with calcium-rich selections, such as plain yogurt or cheese. Leafy greens (in a salad or on a sandwich) can help to control the bacteria that's naturally present in your child's mouth. This also decreases the likelihood of cavity development. 

Do Call the Dentist

Did you skip your family's bi-annual dentist visit this summer? Between vacation, summer camp, and getting ready to go back to school, your child may have missed an office appointment. Even though one missed check-up may not seem like a major problem, over time, this could lead to dental issues.

Not only could one missed visit easily turn into two, three, four, or more, your child won't get the benefits of a professional cleaning and full mouth check. This means beginning-stage cavities or gum disease could turn into problematic infections. Avoid potentially painful oral issues with a back-to-school appointment.

Don't Let School Parties Interfere With Oral Health

Between classroom birthdays, fall fests, and Halloween celebrations, your child's elementary school may have plenty of parties in the first few months of the school year. Some schools have strict rules regulating what types of foods and drinks parents can bring in for these events. 

If your child's school allows cookies, candy, cupcakes, and other sweet treats, pay special attention to how these parties affect their dental health. Talk to your child about healthy food choices that can help their teeth or gums. 

Along with choices, review portion sizes and post-party dental hygiene. While a two-minute-long brushing session is ideal, your child may not have a toothbrush at school. Instead, walk your child through the best possible alternative ideas. A swish and spit with fluoridated water is an easy way to remove some of the stuck-on sugar from their teeth. Add floss to the mix, and your child can reduce the cavity or infection risks. 

Does your child need a back-to-school dental visit? Contact Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, for more information.