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Teeth care for back-to-school kids
September 15, 2015, 2:50 pm

The beginning of a new school term means lazy summer mornings are quickly replaced by the frantic rush to catch the school bus. Dentists say that in the daily hustle and bustle of getting to school, dental care can often fall by the wayside.

Here are a few steps that parents and children can take to ensure their teeth stay health and cavity-free.

Brush before breakfast: It is not necessary to wait until after breakfast to brush. Since cavities form in an acidic environment, the goal of brushing is to prevent pH of the mouth from dropping to an unsafe acidic zone. Studies show that if we brush before we eat, then the mouth's pH will not dip low enough to form cavities.

Consider diet: School meals may contain processed and sugary foods. Parents who pack their child's lunch should focus on sending perishable items, such as fruits and vegetables, which will provide children with healthy alternatives.

Consider shelf life: Packaged foods that can sit on the shelf for a long period of time, such as crackers and pretzels, contain starch. Starch coats the teeth and can breed cavity-causing bacteria. Since kids may get these snacks at school, parents should avoid adding them to their pantry at home. Instead, opt for fresh fruits and vegetables or dried fruits like raisins.

Choose water: Juice often contains more sugar than children should have in an entire day. This sugar can coat the teeth, promoting tooth decay. Sugar can also lead to an afternoon crash, which interferes with schoolwork. Instead of juice, give kids fruit and teach children to drink water.

Seek help: Children who fall on their face should visit the dentist. Sometimes issues can develop slowly. A minor problem could actually affect the root of a tooth. If a permanent tooth is knocked out it must be replaced within 30 minutes. Never scrub a tooth that has fallen out, even if it looks dirty. This could kill its root.

Be careful about braces: Dental care for those with braces is even more important. It can be tough to brush around braces and plaque can build up, leading to permanent damage. Teens often wear braces and hormonal changes that take place during adolescence can alter bacteria in the mouth.

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