mom with son brushing teeth

Oral health problems in children are among the top five reasons they miss school, according to Healthy Schools Campaign

In order to prevent this, Loma Linda University School of Dentistry dental hygiene specialist Danielle Ellington, RDH, MEd, says caregivers should start implementing proper eating and oral care regimens early.

“It can be challenging. You have to work at it,” Ellington says. “However, after the work is put in, families can reap the long-term financial, health and academic rewards.”

Part of that academic reward is improving your child’s ability to focus in the classroom. Ellington says cavities and toothaches can be distracting due to the pain they cause. As a result, parents will then have to remove their student from school to get needed dental attention. This poses a distraction and a financial burden.

Ellington suggests four creative ways to make sure your little one is on the right track.

  1. Start the day off strong with breakfast. The more a child snacks, the higher risk that a child will develop cavities. Ellington advises guardians to make sure their child has a well-balanced meal full of protein, fiber, carbs, such as fruit, and a little fat, such as cheese. This should hold students over until lunch time and minimize snacking.
  2. Pack a toothbrush and toothpaste in their lunchbox. Rushing out the door can describe the typical experience for parents most mornings. But the daily rush can interfere with a child’s teeth being brushed in the morning. Ellington suggests packing a toothbrush and toothpaste in your child’s lunches with proper instructions for brushing their teeth after lunch. She says you can determine if they are using it by how much toothpaste is left after a few weeks.
  3. Find unique snacks that are easy on teeth. Carbs are easy to give to kiddos to hold them over, but make sure you are choosing carbs that are not loaded with sugar. For example, steer away from cookies or fruit snacks because they cause a breeding ground for bacteria that turns into cavities. Instead, Ellington suggests pairing a piece of fresh fruit or vegetable with a healthy spread alternative. If you have to choose a sugary carb, like a cracker, try a wheat cracker.
  4. Consider sealants. Protecting your child’s teeth from cavities is the major priority. Once your kid is seven and older, Ellington suggests considering going to the dentist to get a sealant. Sealants are a protective layer applied onto teeth that can be a barrier that provides long-term protection from cavities.
  5. Just brush their teeth, even if it’s only at night. All in all, if you had to choose one thing to do, Ellington says just brush their teeth; because all of the other tips are useless if teeth are not being brushed. Make sure teeth are being brushed for a solid two minutes. While it is recommended to brush teeth morning and night, if you can only choose one time period, Ellington says it is more beneficial at night.

No parent is perfect and Loma Linda University School of Dentistry understands that. If there are dental needs you want addressed with your child, the School of Dentistry has excellent pediatric dentists. To book an appointment call 909-558-4689.