Your kid’s swim suits will soon be retired for school books as they get ready for another academic year. Getting a smart start off the school bus by being mindful of your child’s nutrition can lead to great success in the classroom and dental office. Below are a few tips towards keeping your kids healthy, smiling and energized.
Pack a toothbrush and FLOSS
The American Dental Association recommends changing your toothbrush at least every three months. Change out brushes that have frayed bristles or after your child recovers from being sick. Placing a soft bristle toothbrush in your child’s lunch box is a great reminder to get them cleaning their teeth after each meal. Despite recent news reports, flossing is the only way to reach areas the “in-between” areas that are the most common site of cavities. Single use floss strips that come on disposable handles are an increasingly popular and a convenient alternative to traditional “finger floss”. Toss one in your child’s lunch box right next to their toothbrush and hand sanitizer.
Selecting smile friendly snacks
As a general rule of thumb less processed foods tend to be lower in sugar and better for our teeth. Be mindful of the products you buy, particularly if your child is in braces. Foods that are sticky or crunchy like fruit snacks or chips have a longer exposure time on your child’s enamel and can lead to decay or the dreaded “white-spot” decalcification rings around orthodontic brackets.
Yogurt, fruit slices, avocado, and celery with natural peanut butter for spreading are all nutrient rich and smile friendly options. A small indulgence to keep picky eaters happy is high percentage cocoa dark chocolate. A very small piece of this goes a long way and is not only a rich and decadent delight but has also been shown to stimulate learning, memory and focus.
Stick with water
Staying hydrated can significantly increase mental clarity and boost metabolism. Sports drinks, soda and juice contain an incredible amount of sugar and carbohydrates. Drinkable calories are one of the quickest ways to tack on a few additional pounds that may have been burned during that summer camp. Milk is a good occasional alternative but beware it still contains a very high sugar content. Our bodies are 80% water – keep it hydrated with H20!
Don’t forget your checkups
As the school year begins and the activities begin to add up remember to schedule your annual cleanings. Getting a dental checkup every six months is one of the most important components to keeping your child’s teeth healthy and tracking their dental development. I like to say that the baby teeth are for dress rehearsal. Many of the adult teeth will be in place for over 10 times the duration of their primary counterpart! A first visit to the dentist is recommended by age 1 to get them comfortable and familiarized with the process of visiting the office. Let your older children be a good example to the younger ones during their checkups. Our dental health is largely mediated by nutrition, always feel free to reach out to your dentist with questions, tips and tricks toward keeping your children eating well and smiling bright!
You can find Dr. Louis Formica at Virginia Family Dentistry’s Tri-Cities location. He holds a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition from Columbia University and focuses a large portion of his practice on the promotion of oral health and systemic wellness through guided nutritional planning.