In recent weeks and months, COVID-19 has turned life upside down for people all over the globe. Now, many adults are self-quarantining at home, along with their kids who aren’t going back to school anytime soon. With the structure of a typical day gone, it’s easy for anyone to let their oral hygiene routine lapse, especially children. And when you combine that with the close proximity of your refrigerator, it’s also easier to snack all day. The last thing you want is for your child to need extensive work from a dentist when this is all over, so how can you keep their smile healthy? It’s easy – use the following 4 tips!
1. Make It a Family Affair
If your family has found it hard to brush and floss regularly, try making it a family affair. If your children are at an appropriate age (i.e. teenagers probably wouldn’t be thrilled about this), you can always head into the bathroom with them and brush and floss together.
Modeling the right behavior like this is one of the best ways to instill good habits. Not to mention that it’s a great way to improve your own oral health as well. You’ll also be able to make sure your child is doing a good job (as opposed to the “20-second brush” that kids often do!)
2. Explore Apps and Other Online Resources
Whether it’s an app on your phone or a video on YouTube, there are some really great resources that encourage kids and make brushing and flossing more fun. These tools are an easy way to help children stay consistent with their oral hygiene habits, especially when there isn’t a typical start and end to their day.
Some apps play music or make a game out of brushing and flossing. Some are interactive and involve putting a sticker on each day of the calendar or scoring points when the task is completed. These simple tools can be just the motivation kids need.
3. Manage Their Sugar Intake
Each time kids consume something sweet, the bacteria in their mouth produce acid that wears away at their enamel and causes cavities. Here are 2 easy ways to minimize the impact of sugar:
- Remember the phrase, “Sip all day, get decay” as a reminder to discourage snacking, sipping, and grazing on sugary foods and beverages throughout the day. When your child does have something sweet, make it part of a meal rather than a snack.
- Stock your kitchen with healthy, low or no-sugar snacks like cheese, lunch meat, plain (sugar-free) yogurt with fresh fruit, avocado, unsweetened apple sauce with cinnamon, and boiled eggs. Minimize soda, juice, dried fruit, candy, etc.
4. Schedule a Checkup When You Can
Right now, dental offices are only open for emergencies, and it’s impossible to say when they’ll re-open for routine care. But when things are relatively back to normal, don’t forget to schedule a checkup and cleaning for everyone in the family.
These visits are the best way to make sure that cavities and other issues are found in the early stages, when less damage has been done. They’re also a chance for kids to get cavity-preventive fluoride treatments and professional cleanings.
COVID-19 has changed our lives dramatically. But with these tips, your child will get through this time with a healthy smile intact.
About the Author
Dr. Sheri McIntosh is a family dentist with over 15 years of experience and also a mother of two. She loves working with patients of all ages and is committed to helping families get through COVID-19 with as few dental problems as possible. If you’d like to know more about good oral hygiene for kids or have any questions, she can be reached via her website.