Back-To-School Oral Health: Tips for keeping a child’s mouth healthy

Oral health is a crucial component of a child’s overall well-being.  Remember to include a trip to the dentist when scheduling your child’s back to school medical check-ups to make sure your child’s teeth are ready for another year.

Children need to be taught good brushing habits so remind them that teeth need to be brushed at least two times every day.  Soft-bristled brushes are best and help clean teeth, without causing unnecessary irritation to gums.  The toothbrush shape and size should be comfortable for your child’s mouth.

It is important to replace a toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if the bristles are frayed. Do you keep forgetting when you got your last brush?  Put a sticker or post-it note on your bathroom mirror or drawer where you keep your toothbrush with the date you first used it, and a date three to four months in the future reminding you to replace it.  Also, swap your toothbrush after being sick to reduce the risk of re-infection.

Just brushing your teeth isn’t enough; you have to make sure you have the proper form to guarantee that your teeth, gums and tongue are clean.  Follow these guidelines for good brushing technique:

  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
  • Gently move the brush back-and-forth in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
  • Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh. 

It is crucial to teach your children good brushing habits from the beginning.  Try making brushing fun and encourage good techniques by:

  • Playing games while brushing teeth, such as “Simon Says.”
  • Let your child pick out his/her toothbrush and toothpaste so he/she is excited about having a brushing routine.
  • Reward children for good brushing habits to encourage them to continue to brush their teeth everyday
  • Limit the juice – too much juice consumption has been linked to childhood obesity and tooth decay
  • Don’t forget about snacks!  The foods we eat affect our teeth too.  Click here to learn about what to eat for a strong and healthy mouth.

Remember, regardless of age, it is important to schedule regular visits with the dentist to keep your mouth healthy.

Photo Credit:  microgen

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Read 6 Comments

  1. It’s not a bad idea to schedule a dental checkup for your school-aged children just before school starts (say in late July or early August) as a way of preventing any oral health issues before they become worse by the start of the school year.

  2. Hello Dr. Gary,

    Thank you very much for sharing this very informative post. Yes, I totally agree with you. Regardless of age, it is important to schedule regular visits with our dentist to keep our mouth healthy. We really need to take good care of our mouth and health.


    1. Thank you for your comments. We agree – school-aged children and adults should visit their dentist every six months for a checkup. Back to school is a great time to get the appointment on the calendar.

  3. Never missed replacing my kid’s toothbrush after 3 months. Glad to know I’ve been doing it right. Luring a kid to a dentist visit is pretty much easy too. Just swear you’d buy him an ice cream as a reward after the check-up.

  4. Flossing is a very important part of oral health. This is because there is no other effective way of removing food particles that have stuck in-between teeth. Brushing alone isn’t effective. You must therefore make a point of teaching your kids how to floss if you want them to maintain good oral hygiene. It is important to note that flossing can be dangerous for kids. You must therefore take time to teach them how to floss without hurting their gums.

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