By Dr. Melissa Levine
With kids around the country returning to school, now is the perfect time to kick off the school year with some good dental habits for your children. Here are some tips to make sure your kids’ teeth are happy and healthy.
- When packing your children’s lunch, avoid anything sticky. While raisins and “fruit snacks” might seem like a healthy option, these sugary foods will stay stay stuck to the teeth for unnecessarily long periods of time and can lead to cavities.
- For drinking fruit juice or soda, encourage the use of a straw. This minimizes the contact of sugary or acidic liquid with the teeth.
- When it comes to snacking, it’s not just about the kind of snack, but the frequency. One large snack is preferable to multiple small snacks throughout the day because it limits instances of acidic erosion.
- If your kids are on the baseball or soccer team, make sure you invest in a mouthguard to help prevent oral injuries. While a custom-fitted mouthguard is ideal, a store-bought one is better than nothing, especially for elementary- and middle-school kids whose teeth may still be changing.
- Brushing twice a day—morning and night—is always recommended. Parents of children under the age of 7 should help their children brush, as they have not yet developed the dexterity to adequately brush by themselves.
- And always remember to see a dentist every six months for checkups and cleanings so problems can be dealt with when they’re small—or, better yet, can be avoided altogether!
Dr. Melissa Levine is an associate professor of Dental Medicine and director of Pediatric Dentistry at Touro College of Dental Medicine.