Without question, COVID-19 has changed our lives. With nationwide school closures, kids have lost the structure of their everyday routine. And, on top of creating a lot of headaches for both children and parents, many kids are struggling to stay consistent with their brushing and flossing as well. Not to mention that snacking is a lot easier when you’re cooped up at home all day. No one wants to see their child develop cavities and other dental problems, so how can you help them maintain a healthy smile?
1. Limit Sugar Consumption
Consuming too much sugar (or having small amounts frequently) will put your kids at high risk for cavities. Here are some ways to minimize the impact of sugar on their teeth:
- Looking for an activity to occupy your child’s time? Try making kid-friendly, low-sugar dishes together like tacos, oven-baked chicken nuggets, or sundaes with fresh fruit, nuts (optional), and plain (no-sugar) yogurt instead of ice cream.
- Sipping, snacking or grazing on carbohydrates or sugar is a recipe for getting cavities. When your child does have something sweet, include it with a meal rather than as a snack.
- Limit how much juice, dried fruit, soda and candy your child has. Instead, keep healthier snacks on hand like carrots, salted cucumbers, lunch meat, guacamole, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, and unsweetened apple sauce with cinnamon.
2. Make It Fun
With a quick online search, you can find tons of great ideas for apps or even YouTube videos that motivate kids to brush and floss. Some of them play a 2-minute song to encourage brushing long enough or reward points for consistency. Others are educational and help kids understand why it’s so important to take good care of their teeth and gums. Either way, simply making a child’s oral hygiene routine more fun can make all the difference in helping them stay motivated.
3. Brush and Floss Together
Modeling the right behavior as a parent is one of the best ways to help kids establish their own good habits. For age-appropriate kids (pre-teen and younger), try heading into the bathroom with them so you can brush and floss together. This is not only a great way to maintain your own oral health, but also a chance to make sure your child is brushing well enough (i.e. for a full 2 minutes). Also, since assisting kids under 7 with their brushing is recommended anyway, you can also use this time to make sure they’re getting the hard-to-reach areas in the back.
Last but not least, while dental offices are only open for emergency care at the moment, be sure to schedule a checkup with a pediatric dentist as soon as they re-open for routine care. This way, any potential problems can be found and addressed early on.
COVID-19 has shaken up everyone’s routines. By using these 3 easy tips, you’ll keep your child’s smile happy and healthy.