Get ready for the new school year with our school dental care checklist.
Could a school dental care checklist help your kids do better this year? With summer vacations nearly at an end, thoughts are turning to the new school year ahead.
Parents are stocking up on back to school supplies and kids are trying on new shoes and clothes. The focus is on helping young learners put their best foot forward in the new school year.
What else can you do to ensure your child’s hungry mind can soak up all the learning that lies ahead? How about sending your kids off to school this year with bright smiles and the tools they need to build and benefit from strong oral health habits?
As the new school year begins, here are our top items to include on your back to school dental care checklist.
What to Include on Your Back to School Dental Care Checklist
There are a number of things you can include on your own school dental care checklist. Here are some you won’t want to miss:
1. The top item: a regular dental exam
Having a clean bill of oral health will help your child do their best in school. To keep teeth their healthiest, most dentists and health professionals agree you should take kids to the dentist twice a year for a regular exam.
Plan ahead to ensure your child gets in to see the dentist every 6 months. Like their report cards, your kids’ teeth are always subject to change. To ensure kids’ teeth stay their healthiest, nothing can replace routine teeth cleanings and exams done by a professional dental hygienist. Think of it as a crucial part of your family’s dental health regimen.
2. A strong daily dental care routine
Are you stocked up on toothpaste, floss, mouthwash? Research has proven that a regular daily routine can help prevent cavities and periodontal disease. Like pencils, paper, and crayons, these tools are essential for your child’s healthy growth.
Ask your dentist what toothpaste and rinse she recommends for her patients and the type of brush and floss you should be using. Then, plan ahead. Keep extra supplies on hand and make a note on your calendar to replace older toothbrushes or brush heads as the seasons change.
Then, brush up on your child’s oral health habits. After all, basic dental care begins with brushing. Using a proper brushing technique is the best protection against plaque, the bacteria that forms on teeth and gums after eating. Also, review the proper way to floss with your child. Flossing teeth is the best way to remove stubborn bacteria from between the teeth and gum line.
Need a full review? Check out our basic oral hygiene overview.
3. Lunch and snack foods that promote good health
It’s a well documented fact that oral health is directly related to overall health. As a result, the foods we eat can be as vital to oral health as regular brushing, flossing, and dental exams.
So, be sure your child eats healthy foods and snacks during the school day. With some organization and planning, you can ensure your child has delicious foods and snacks that support good oral health. A well-balanced diet is always the wisest choice, but vitamins A, C and D are generally known as key essential nutrients for oral health.
In addition, teeth rely on minerals for optimal health, and calcium is among the most important minerals for oral health. Like bones, which provide structural support for the body, calcium gives external structure to the teeth. Check out this article for more about choosing foods for dental nutrition.
4. A properly fitted mouth guard
Regular dental exams, a strong daily routine, and the right foods to support oral health are powerful ways to safeguard your child’s oral health. However, now and then they could use some extra help. That’s why you should ensure your child wears a properly fitted mouth guard when needed.
Mouth guards help keep teeth safe while playing highly physical or contact sports. When a properly fitted mouth guard is used, it helps displace the force of a blow, which can significantly reduce the odds of injury to your child’s mouth and teeth. Mouth guards protect teeth by causing the energy from a blow to spread out so injuries such as chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage, or tooth loss can be reduced.
What other dental care items are you including on your back to school list?
Read next: Oral Health and Bullying: How Dentists Can Spot Verbal Abuse
If you suffer from gingivitis, tooth decay, or simply want to prevent dental problems from occurring later, you might be looking for new ways to improve your oral health. The American Dental Association recommends using floss to remove plaque from between your teeth at least once a day, but many people dislike the hassle of flossing. You might
be wondering if water flossers, also known as water picks, are as great as their manufacturers claim.
Good Oral Hygiene: What are the Most Helpful Tools?
Floss and water picks both have the goal of removing the plaque, tartar and food particles that irritate the gums and lead to tooth decay. The pick uses water pressure to flush debris from between the teeth. With traditional floss, you drag the floss along the surface of the tooth to scrape debris away. While traditional floss can be purchased for a few dollars, a water pick can cost between $30 and $70. That said, most models are quality made and should last quite a while before you’ll need a replacement.
Water Picks versus Traditional Floss: Which is Better?
Both tools can be helpful for cleaning, but the water pick may not have the power to remove firmly attached plaque. For this reason, it’s not recommended as a replacement for floss but rather as a complementary tool. If you’ve struggling to find the drive to floss, using a water pick is certainly better than nothing. However, your best bet is using both.
Technique Matters: How Do You Properly Floss?
You might be looking for a water pick because you believe flossing isn’t working for you, but since the pick isn’t a replacement for traditional floss, you should consider improving your technique. People who feel that floss is pointless are often not doing it properly. It takes more than simply slipping the floss between each tooth and then calling it a day.
Floss works by scraping the plaque from the surface of the teeth, which means that you must pay careful attention to what you’re doing. Focus on getting close as you can to the root on both sides of the tooth. It’s safe to gently pull the floss beneath the gums, but you should be sure to keep the pressure on the surface of the tooth versus the gum tissue.
Practice Makes Perfect: How Do You Use the Water Pick?
Dentists recommend using the water pick at least once a day. Your best bet is to start with the floss, scrape and loosen as much plaque as possible, and then blast it all away with the water pick. Using the pick should be self-explanatory. The only thing you really need to remember is to be careful to avoid aiming the stream of water straight down toward the root of the tooth. Instead, keep it close to a 90-degree angle. Aiming toward the root could result in shooting a stream of water straight into the gums, separating them from the teeth and causing pain or injury.
For more information about hygiene practices and oral health, please contact us today.
Do you want to keep your teeth? If so, brushing and flossing need to become habitual. Why? Because if you don’t embrace brushing and flossing, you could have unpleasant and painful consequences like bleeding gums and rotting teeth.
You may develop excruciating dental abscesses. Your teeth may all fall out, but only after causing you indescribable pain. Teeth that don’t fall out may become so loose that they move around in your mouth.
What Happens When you Skip Brushing and Flossing?
At some point, you’ll almost certainly develop bad breath. Your teeth will start to look discolored; they may turn yellow or take on a brownish or blackish color. Sticky gunk called plaque will accumulate on your teeth and eventually harden into calculus or tartar.
Plaque, calculus and tartar are all loaded with bacteria and toxins that inflame the gums and cause cavities. If the cavities are allowed to progress, you will start to experience severe tooth pain whenever you try to eat.
Meanwhile, your gums will begin to shrink and pull away from your teeth. They’ll develop pockets where bacteria and toxins hide and multiply while they eat away at your gum tissue. At some point, your gums will shrink so much that they will no longer be able to hold your teeth in place. As a result, your teeth will get loose and start to fall out.
What Causes Problems With Teeth And Gums?
Food particles get stuck in your teeth whenever you eat. At any given moment, millions of hungry bacteria are scavenging for food inside your mouth.
They feed on the food particles stuck in your teeth, and the longer you wait to remove these food particles by brushing and flossing, the more bacteria these food particles will attract.
As long as there is something good to eat, these invisible invaders will hang around in your mouth and feast on whatever they find. Over time, they will make a total mess of your teeth and gums.
As they consume the food particles stuck in your teeth, they produce acid. The acid eats away at the protective enamel covering your teeth, and the next thing you know, you have cavities. Meanwhile, all those tiny bacteria are emitting volatile sulfur compounds that produce bad breath.
Can I Develop Other Health Problems If I Don’t Take Care Of My Teeth?
Not caring for your teeth and gums can have devastating consequences that might not become obvious until you reach your 30s. By then, you could be in the market for gum surgery and dentures.
However, if you address the situation by committing to healthy oral care immediately, your dentist may be able to stabilize your condition and keep things from getting worse. Unfortunately, dentists cannot reverse the damage that’s already been done. To prevent further deterioration, you will have to take exceptionally good care of your teeth and gums for the rest of your life.
Commit to Brushing and Flossing Regularly
All of these problems can be easily avoided with proper oral hygiene and regular dental care. When you brush and floss every day, your teeth and gums will not develop the problems caused by food particles stuck in your teeth.
When there are no food particles for bacteria to feed on, they cannot take over your mouth. Thoroughly brushing all the surfaces of your teeth will get rid of about 65 percent of food particles. Proper flossing between teeth will remove the rest.
Read next: 4 Most Overlooked Oral Health Problems
If you think flossing your teeth regularly is a pain, prison lawsuits highlight the problems that can arise when you skimp on flossing.
Inmates filed suits against the Palm Beach County Jail in Florida and the Westchester County Jail in New York because they did not have access to dental floss. The lack of floss, one inmate stated, resulted in “oral abscesses, pain, discomfort, tooth decay (loss), and could contribute to endocarditis.” [“Jail inmate goes beyond oral arguments in fight for right to floss,” The Palm Beach Post.]
Of course, not flossing your teeth won’t land you in prison, but it’s a fact that skipping the dental floss truly can be a serious offense when it comes to oral health.
What is a dental abscess?
Skipping dental floss can be a serious offense.
Let’s look at one of the problems cited by litigious inmates: dental abscesses. A dental abscess is a pocket of tissue inside the mouth or throat that is filled with pus.
The pus is the result of a bacterial infection. Bacteria typically get into teeth through a chip or crack, due to tooth decay, or as a result of periodontal disease.
Bacterial infections may also be the result of a cavity that has been left untreated. The symptoms of dental abscesses include extreme throbbing and relentless toothache-like pain, swelling, tenderness, sensitivity to heat and cold, and redness.
The lymph nodes in the neck may become swollen when a dental abscess is present. Chills, diarrhea, fever, nausea, sweating, and vomiting may also accompany acute cases.
Complications and consequences of dental abscesses
Whether you believe inmates should have access to floss or not, the jury is unanimous on one point: the consequences of leaving a dental abscess untreated can be deadly. Dangerous and sometimes life-threatening complications can result if a dental abscess is not treated properly. In some very advanced cases, immediate hospitalization may even be necessary.
Swelling related to an abscess can perforate bone. The pressure from an untreated abscess can block airways and make it hard to breathe. When related to upper teeth, dental abscesses may lead to blood infection, a condition called septicemia. Extremely rare complications include brain abscesses and meningitis.
…even in cases where an abscess spontaneously drains or releases the stored up pus, the infection will not go away without proper treatment and care.
While an abscess may drain without intervention, if left untreated the bacteria may spread to the jaw, to other parts of the head, neck, and chest, or throughout the entire body through a condition known as sepsis. It is important to note that, even in cases where an abscess spontaneously drains or releases the stored up pus, the infection will not go away without proper treatment and care.
Who’s at risk for dental abscesses, and why?
Several factors can put a person at greater risk for developing a tooth abscess. The risk of developing dental abscesses is obviously greater in people who do not take proper care of their teeth. Diet also plays an important role in dental health, and consuming too much sugar is known to promote cavities, which can progress to form dental abscesses in some cases.
In addition, complications from abscesses can spread more easily in people with underlying health issues and weakened immune systems. People with HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or any medical condition that makes it more difficult for the body to stay healthy are at greater risk, generally speaking.
When to seek professional care
Considering the life threatening nature of dental abscesses, it is important to seek professional care if you have any of the symptoms related to dental abscesses:
- If you suspect you or someone you know has an abscess, call your dentist right away
- If you cannot reach your dentist, or if you are experiencing advanced symptoms such as fever, nausea, or vomiting, an emergency room should be your first stop
Treatments and medications for dental abscesses
In order to eradicate the infection the abscess must be drained. Abscesses sometimes rupture or drain on their own, or they may be drained by a doctor or dentist.
Treatment typically includes prescription pain killers and may include the use of antibiotics, especially where a weakened immune system is present. Tooth extraction is sometimes necessary, but a root canal may be performed to wipe out the infection and attempt to save the tooth.
Treatment typically includes prescription pain killers and may include the use of antibiotics…
To treat pain related to a dental abscess at home — either before seeing the dentist or doctor or after receiving treatment — over-the-counter pain relievers may be used. Ice packs can be applied to the swelling for a few minutes on and off. In addition, if an abscess drains on its own or is drained by a professional, rinsing the mouth with lukewarm water can help.
Preventing dental abscesses
Chances are you’ve never had a dental abscess. But, are you doing everything you need to do to make sure it stays that way? When it comes to anything as potentially life-threatening as dental abscesses, an ounce of prevention makes a ton of sense.
Maintaining good oral alth and preventing dental abscesses and tooth decay requires a daily regimen of brushing and flossing. To help ensure that tooth decay is exposed early and advanced problems such as dental abscesses are avoided entirely, be sure to have regular professional cleanings and dental checkups. Finally, drinking water that has been fluoridated and eating a healthy, well-balanced diet play important roles in maintaining overall dental health.
Chances are, you’ll never have a dental abscess. But then, no one’s challenging your right to floss. And only you can challenge yourself to do all you can to protect your teeth.
Add a teaspoon of either baking soda or sea salt to a cup of water, gargle and spit, and then rinse with clean water.
Have you run out of a basic oral hygiene product? No problem.
There are a number of fairly common household items that can stand in for your favorite toothpaste or dental floss until you can make it to the store.
Here are a few time-tested tips and tricks for making do with what you (probably) have on hand the next time you run out of dental care basics or – bummer! – your 2 year old accidentally drops your toothbrush into the john.
Oral care without a toothbrush:
- Use your finger: place a dab of toothpaste on your pointer finger and rub all the surfaces of your teeth
- Try a wash cloth: Wrap a terry wash cloth around a fingertip, apply paste, and use the improvised brush to brush as normal
- Chew sugar free gum: Chewing sugar free gum when you can’t brush can help to reduce plaque and prevent cavities
Oral care without toothpaste:
- Do without: use your toothbrush dry or with a little water to brush as you normally would
- Use baking soda or sea salt: dampen the bristles of the toothbrush and dip them into a shallow dish of either baking soda, sea salt or a mixture of both, and go to it – Gently!
- Use coconut oil: place a small amount of coconut oil (which recent studies suggest can help fight tooth decay) on your toothbrush and brush as usual
Oral care without floss:
- Try a toothpick: while a toothpick is certainly not the recommended method for cleaning between teeth, it’s still better than nothing when there’s no floss on hand
- Use a length of sewing thread: gently draw the thread between your teeth as you would with dental floss, but be careful that it does not snap up against the gum too aggressively
- Use a piece of paper: while not really workable for cleaning all your teeth, a piece of paper may help to dislodge articles between front teeth when dental floss or another interdental device is unavailable: careful though – paper can cut
Oral care without mouthwash:
- Make a baking soda or sea salt rinse: add a teaspoon of either baking soda or sea salt to a cup of water, gargle and spit, and then rinse with clean water
- Try vinegar: like salt, vinegar is one of the most ancient of mouthwash ingredients; simply gargle, spit, and rinse
- Raid the liquor cabinet: in a pinch, an alcoholic beverage such as vodka or brandy can be used as an effective oral rinse
Don’t put off replacing basic oral hygiene products
Of course, none of the tips and tricks above are meant to be permanent replacements for dentist-approved oral care products. However, the next time you forget to pack a toothbrush or discover there are only 2 inches of dental floss left, at least you’ll have some ideas to help you get by.
And here’s a final tip – stock up on the items you use, and you’ll never have to try any of the tips in this post.
So, what do you use when you run out of an oral hygiene product?
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It’s estimated that 75% of Americans have some form of periodontal disease, which is the most common cause for adult tooth loss. That’s especially surprising in this day and age, because the means for prevention is well known: regular basic oral hygiene. So, let’s take a few minutes to review…
The top 5 dental care practices for good oral health
Brush up on basic dental care.
A regular, daily oral care routine has been shown to help prevent cavities and periodontal disease. Add to that regular exams and smart choices about longer-term oral health strategies, and you can keep your teeth healthy for your entire lifetime.
With that in mind, here are the top 5 dental hygiene practices you need to follow to protect and preserve your oral health.
1. Brush your teeth, of course, but be sure you do it properly
Basic dental care begins with brushing. To provide the best protection against plaque – the bacteria film that forms on teeth and gums after eating, which degrades the tooth’s enamel – proper brushing technique is key.
Here’s a refresher on how to brush your teeth:
- Use a toothbrush that is right for you: toothbrushes vary in size, bristle strength, and other factors, and you should use one that allows you to reach all your tooth surfaces easily (ask your dentist or oral hygienist if you need help choosing)
- Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride
- Hold the brush against your teeth at a slight angle, and brush gently back and forth with short motions about the width of one tooth
- To brush the inside surfaces of front teeth, use a gentle up-and-down stroke
- Ensure that all the surfaces of your teeth – inner, outer, and chewing surfaces – are well brushed
- Finally, be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day, and – while you’re at it – be sure to brush your tongue as well, to help remove any remaining bacteria and promote fresh breath
2. Floss between teeth frequently
Flossing your teeth is another important way to maintain oral health. Even after thoroughly brushing your teeth, bacteria that can lead to tooth decay may remain between your teeth. To remove any stubborn bacteria between your teeth and at the gum line, frequent flossing is strongly recommended.
Here are some tips for successful flossing:
- Use about one-and-a-half feet (18”) of floss, wrap it around the pointer or middle fingers of each hand, and insert the floss gently into the crevice between your teeth
- Start at one end of the floss, and move it through your fingers an inch or so each time that you move on to the next tooth, so each tooth crevice gets flossed with a clean, new section
- Gently rub the floss against the tooth and gum line; when you reach the gum line, place the floss in the space between the tooth and gum and press the floss lightly against the tooth while you move the floss up and down
- Work your way from one corner of your mouth all the way around to the beginning again, one tooth crevice at a time, including the back sides of the teeth at the ends of each row
- Explore different varieties of floss, floss holders, or interdental cleaners until you find what feels and works best for you
3. Eat a healthy diet
To maintain optimal oral health, eat a balanced diet with only a moderate amount of sweets or snacks. Whether you choose the Mediterranean diet, the FDA food pyramid, or some other dietary system to follow, the key to good nutrition ultimately comes down to consuming a wide and balanced variety of foods.
When it comes to your teeth, not all foods are created equal.
When it comes to your teeth, though, not all foods are created equal. Sweet, sticky snacks such as preserves, candy bars, and dried fruit, can be a threat to teeth and should be avoided unless it will be possible to brush soon after eating them. Some choices for snacking that are less prone to promote tooth decay include vegetables, nuts, and popcorn.
To learn more about the important role diet plays in oral health, talk to your dentist, oral hygienist, or family doctor.
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4. Visit your dentist and dental hygienist regularly
Now that we’ve covered the three must-do daily regimens for oral health, let’s look at two longer-term strategies for basic dental hygiene. The first of these is regular, professional dental exams and cleanings. To maintain optimal dental health, most dentists and health professionals agree that you should visit the dentist twice yearly for a regular check-up.
Routine teeth cleaning by a professional dental hygienist is an indispensable component of one’s dental health regimen. A dental cleaning, or “prophylaxis,” is the first line defense in the field of preventative dentistry, and as such it is right up there with brushing and flossing in overall importance.
Regular visits to the dentist’s office not only help keep teeth as beautiful as possible: they also help keep teeth as healthy as possible. Your regular visits allow dental professionals to monitor your dental health so they can spot and correct any potential problems as early as possible.
Your dentist or hygienist may also suggest adding personalized elements to your daily oral care routine based on your specific situation. For example, they may suggest rinsing with mouthwash, using toothpaste with a specific ingredient, or taking a fluoride supplement.
5. Plan ahead for good oral health
Finally, planning ahead is an important strategy for maintaining long-term dental health.
Prevention is crucial to protecting your oral health. Click to view related infographic.
Planning ahead for optimal health means knowing what to do in an emergency. Before you find yourself in an emergency dental situation, talk with your family dentist about the best ways to deal with various dental problems that might arise.
If you understand in advance what to do in an emergency – such as a bitten tongue, broken tooth, or impacted wisdom tooth – you might just save a tooth or two.
Planning ahead for optimal health also means having adequate dental insurance coverage. There are a wide variety of dental plans, features, and services available that help people to cover the costs of their dental care needs, from simple checkups to root canals and everything in between.
You can learn all about dental insurance basics, such as deductibles, co-insurance, and premiums, in the dental resources section.
A lifetime of happy, healthy smiles
To keep your teeth in the best possible health, be sure that you understand proper dental hygiene and the other elements of basic dental care. With proper dental hygiene, regular professional care, and the right planning to meet your needs, your teeth can last a lifetime.
Which parts of your oral care routine need a brush up?