Going to the dentist is a big deal, and I’ve been working hard to get my two school-aged children to have a motivation for good oral care habits. Thanks to the American Dental Association for sponsoring this post and inspiring smart new habits.
It was last year in second grade. She came out of school beaming and holding a white tooth necklace around her neck proudly in front of her face. I was so happy I told anyone I could see, “MY DAUGHTER LOST HER TOOTH!” Then she lost her second tooth at school too. She has yet to lose one here! I think there’s something special about losing your tooth at school. You get to go to the nurse’s office where he or she will put your tooth in the prized tooth necklace. My son, Des, is in kindergarten and it’s already happening to his classmates. He has stories! File that under BIG DEAL life experience for kids.
All of that talk and excitement over losing teeth at school actually made me think. Last year, there was an option for Scarlet to get fluoride rinses at school, and for Des to brush his teeth while at preschool. Why not at least promote some, if not several, good oral care habits at school? We already do what we can at home, but the kids are at school for most of their days. Now that it’s National Children’s Dental Health Month and both of my kids are smack in the middle of losing teeth season, it’s timely to teach them about practicing their oral care habits at school. I love that they get excited like I do.
1 – Talk to your child’s teacher or principal about making time for your child or the whole class to brush their teeth after lunch. You can also ask local dentists to donate supplies – like brushes, toothpaste, floss. Last year, one of my son’s classmates’ parents – a dentist – came to school to talk about proper dental care. That really sparked the kids’ minds.
2 – Better juice habits start at home, and continue at school. On a home level, you can refrain from sending soda and sugary drinks in your kids’ school lunches and snacks. Bottled water and milk are better options. Another tip is to see if you can get such drinks removed from school vending machines, if they haven’t already been removed. Have better options.
3 – Pack tooth-healthy lunches and snacks for your child. For us, that includes water, some dairy products, lean proteins, nuts, fruits, and of course, plenty of vegetables. It’s not the same as a toothbrush, but some snacks help!
4 – Make sure your child’s school has up-to-date contact info on record. When we fill out our annual start-of-school paperwork, we always make sure to put all relevant dental information as well. We do this with summer camp too. No matter where our kids are, it gives peace of mind to know that their dental needs will be met when we’re not around them.
5 – Be aware. This is a big one for me because I’m more like hyperaware of every nuance in my kids’ lives, and that includes their mouths! My kids run track and play sports. They have after school classes and time with grandparents. When there’s some sort of inevitable tooth falling out or something bothering them, I need to be in the know and make others aware.
As a bonus tip, if your child wears any kind of dental gear that comes in to school with them, have a plan in action for the care and cleanliness of the gear. I specifically remember the fears I had of throwing away my retainer case with my lunch! Luckily it never happened. I used to have a plan to rinse my retainer and retainer case out in the restroom after lunch. My parents had a lunch monitor friend who knew to help me do this when I was younger. As an older child, I remembered on my own.
The thing is, oral health starts at birth because your baby is born with teeth under their gums. Pretty wild in fact! Even though there are two sets under those gums – baby teeth and permanent teeth – baby teeth are AS important to care for as adult teeth. That’s why it’s so important that healthy teeth habits take place throughout the whole day – and not just with brushing morning and night. I find that the American Dental Association has some great resources for promoting healthy teeth habits at home, and at school. To find out why baby teeth matter, click here. I also loved reading about a child’s first dental visit! For the future, it’s beneficial to read about braces. Healthy habits build. And there’s a joy in helping.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Dental Association.