Many of our Jacksonville area students headed back to school earlier this month. It’s an exciting and hectic time, to be sure, but it’s also a time of heightened oral health risk for our kids. So in this article, we want to relay some tips and best practices that you should consider discussing with the students in your family.
Focus on Healthy Eating
Across the country, schools are trying to provide healthier food options for their students. For example, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards aim to support better health for kids and echo the good work already taking place in schools. Unfortunately, many of the needed changes are limited by budgets and politics.
So its the responsibility of dentists and parents to ensure our kids are making smart food choices that will benefit both overall and oral health. Consider these tips:
- Take a look at the school vending machines. If they contain loads of candy, junk food, and sodas, consider bringing up the issue in the next PTA meeting.
- Think more about replacement than elimination. According to research done at the University of Illinois at Chicago, kids consumed more soda and fast food at schools that banned vending machines altogether. They just waited until some other time to consume the junk food. The researchers said a more comprehensive plan that replaces the vending machine food with better options is more effective.
- Keep up with the cafeteria menu. If you’re not happy with the amount of fresh vegetables and fruits (which are good for both the body and the teeth), consider packing these extra snacks for your student to munch on.
Drink More Water
The beginning of the school year also brings the onset of the fall sports season. The heat in Jacksonville is unrelenting during the beginning of the year and it’s important for all of our young athletes to stay hydrated.
However, it is also a good idea for them to skip sports drinks in favor of good old-fashioned water. They’ll get plenty of refreshment and fluid replacement, while avoiding the sugar and acid in sports drinks that are known to decay teeth.
Stay on Top of Scheduled Checkups
Due to the hectic nature of this time of year, it’s easy for parents to push back the checkup schedule. We’ve seen it happen numerous times. Our advice is to resist the urge. By pushing back the checkup appointment, you’ll be giving those small amounts of decay inside your child’s mouth time to grow into bigger problems. This could result in even more missed school time and larger bills.