Pencils, notebooks, rulers, and erasers. It’s September and the start of a new school year for many scholars has begun. Giving your children the school supplies and the resources they need for the beginning of a school year, can help them do well with their school work. Offering daily support can help them with their study habits and prepare them for a brighter future.

Nearly half the kindergartners in Orange County have experienced tooth decay (treated or untreated). More than half the third graders have also experienced tooth decay (OC Oral Health Strategic Plan).

Provide your children with the proper dental supplies, such as a soft toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste, and dental floss to help them achieve better results during their regular dental checkups. Teach your children how to keep up with their daily, dental care for a healthy, lifelong smile. Read the tips below to help your child do well on their next dental exam.

Use a fluoride toothpaste.

Fluoride helps to strengthen tooth enamel and fight tooth decay. Make sure to use a fluoride toothpaste with an ADA seal of approval. Use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children ages 3-6 and smear or the size of a grain of rice for children under 3.

Use a toothbrush with soft bristles.

Choose a toothbrush for your child with soft bristles for gentle cleaning. Shop for a toothbrush with a small head and if possible, one with a larger handle that is easy to grip. Replace your child’s toothbrush every three (3) months or after an illness (Delta Dental). If the toothbrush appears to be worn or frayed sooner, it may indicate that your child is brushing too vigorously. A good toothbrush does a better job of cleaning.

Brush twice a day.

Brush two (2) times a day, morning and before bed, for two (2) minutes in a circular motion. Use of a two (2) minute timer can help tremendously. Younger children may not be able to reach all tooth surfaces.  Help by brushing your child’s teeth a second time, reaching areas that they may have missed. Older children may enjoy brushing by themselves. Be sure to check in with them and continue to provide guidance until they can brush on their own. 

Floss at least once a day.

Cleaning between teeth and under the gum helps remove plaque. Dental plaque contains bacteria that feeds on leftover food or sugar in your mouth. It releases an acid that can eat away at the outer shell of teeth and cause cavities (Mouth Healthy). Children need to floss every day, preferably before going to bed. Click here for five (5) steps on how to floss properly.

See the dentist twice a year.

A routine dental exam, which may include x-rays and a dental cleaning, should be done at least every six (6) months or two (2) visits per calendar year. Routine dental visits allow the dentist to find early signs of gum disease and other dental issues before they become bigger and more expensive to fix.

Offer healthy food and beverages.

Choosing nutritious foods is important for strong teeth, healthy gums and overall health. Prepare meals and snacks from the five (5) food groups: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products. Limit foods that are high in sugar, such as cookies and candies. Offer water for thirst in place of sweetened drinks.

More resources to help your child have a healthy smile this school year.

Back to school dental visit. Five questions to ask the dentist at your child’s next dental visit from ADA-Mouth Healthy.

School-age children (6-13 years). Find oral health information on oral hygiene, nutrition, injury prevention and more on Smile Habits OC. Learn about proper oral care for this unique dental stage.

Food Hero. Find healthy, easy and low cost recipes for the whole family.

How to get food help in Orange County. A list of food assistance programs in OC to help get food on the table. Food assistance is available for children, youth, adults, families, seniors, and mothers to be. Resource provided by the OC Community Nutrition Action Plan (CNAP) workgroup. Spanish.

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