After a long six months of minimal structure and lowered expectations across the board, it’s finally time to get back into some kind of “normal” routine. Back to school season – whether you’re an adult or a child – always seems to provide a refreshed perspective, a new lease on life, if you will. And that may be truer this year than it has ever been in the past. So, as you work with your family to re-establish structure and routine into your daily lives, be sure to make room for your oral hygiene routine, too!
Now we’re not saying you threw all dental hygiene rules out the window once the pandemic hit, but it’s probably fair to say that many of us applied a more lax approach to daily living when we weren’t really leaving the house everyday. Here are some tips on how you can reintroduce and help everyone to readjust to a new & improved dental healthcare routine as back to school season reaches full swing:
Establish a Morning Routine
School mornings are probably going to look a bit different this year than in previous years. You’re likely used to rushing the kids out of bed, quickly trying to get them dressed, preparing breakfast on the fly, gathering belongings, and hoping they brush their teeth before racing out the door to arrive at school on time. Some people may find that they actually have MORE time in the morning this year because many students will experience a remote education, while others will acclimate to a hybrid approach. If time IS on your side, take advantage of it.
We would actually recommend getting your child into the habit of brushing his or teeth right out of bed. Leaving a sticky note with a reminder on a night stand, the back of their bedroom door or on his or her toothbrush can be a good way to establish a pattern. You may be asking why, and here’s our explanation: if you eat first, we recommend waiting 30 minutes to brush, but most of us don’t have the luxury of that amount of time on a busy morning. Acid visits your teeth after you eat, which can weaken your tooth enamel. It takes about 30-45 minutes for saliva to restore the enamel, and rushing the brushing can damage your teeth while your enamel is working hard to get back to its previous state.
School Snacks & Beverages
Again, monitoring school snack & beverage intake may be a bit easier this year if your child is involved in a remote learning environment. Traditionally, as parents, we know what we send our children out the door with for food & drinks during school hours. However, we also know that kids are kids and that they may trade, throw out, or purchase an item that’s more to their liking. I.e. something we’d prefer they didn’t have, like sugary snacks or soda.
We’d recommend doing your due diligence and sending your child to school with fruits & veggies for a snack and a water bottle for hydration, if they’re attending in-person. Because it’s not customary for a child to bring a toothbrush or floss to school (though we’d never discourage it!), they’ll typically go 8-10 hours without brushing their teeth. What they put into their mouths during this time can significantly impact the way their teeth are treated. However, if your child is attending school virtually, then another addition to your routine could be brushing and flossing 30-45 minutes after lunch by setting a timer as a reminder.
Develop an After School Routine
If your child is used to indulging in an after school snack before diving into homework, heading out to play with friends, or engaging in an athletic practice or another afternoon activity, then encourage snack time to occur immediately upon arriving home. If your child is already at home, then you might have already developed another snacking routine throughout the day. Again, encourage your child to engage in proper brushing & flossing techniques approximately 30-45 minutes after consuming the snack. If your child has been at school during the day & does not typically eat an after school snack, then encourage brushing & flossing right away to help extend their proper oral care routine.
We’re curious to hear how you’re adjusting to back to school season and eager to know what kinds of new routines your family has implemented. Feel free to share your comments below!