Health

Start the school year with a smile

Incisive Bite

by Dr Sharon Robinson

Sunday, September 03, 2017

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IT'S the start of a new school year and your children are all set with new clothes and school supplies. But don't forget about their oral health!

Add these dental health tips to your back-to-school checklist.

Paediatric dentists urge parents to bring their children for a back-to-school dental check-up prior to the start of the new school year. Untreated dental problems can affect children's overall health and even their academic performance, they say.

Dental pain or disease can lead to difficulty in eating, speaking, playing, and learning, as well as many of hours of missed school.

1. Take your children to the dentist

During a professional cleaning and oral exam, the dentist removes plaque bacteria from teeth to help fix early decay. Dentists can also advise parents about effective preventive measures for children's teeth, such as the use of sealants and fluoride, as well as mouthguards for any sport or activity that could result in a blow to the face or mouth. These treatments are easy ways to stop cavities before they start.

2. Pick the right snacks

Decay is on the rise in some children, and many dentists believe that diet and overconsumption of soft drinks are to blame. Allowing children to sip on sugary snacks and drinks for prolonged periods of time can increase the risk of decay.

Instead of chips or crackers, try nuts. Salty snacks may seem healthy because they don't contain sugar, but simple starches can be just as bad. These snacks break down into a sticky goo, coating teeth and promoting decay.

Replace juice and soda with milk or water. Avoid candies and granola bars, offering crunchy snacks like celery sticks, baby carrots and cubes of cheddar cheese.

3. Make brushing and flossing fun

To keep their mouths healthy, children need to brush twice a day for two minutes at a time. They should also floss every day, preferably after dinner. Try these tricks to make oral hygiene more exciting:

• Use a sticker calendar. Let your children place stickers on each day to represent brushing and flossing.

• Play music. Collect your children's favourite two-minute songs and make sure they brush the whole time.

• Personalise. Help your child pick a themed toothbrush in his or her favourite colour.

• Provide a child-friendly floss holder. The Y-shaped devices make flossing more comfortable.

Dr Sharon Robinson DDS has offices at the Dental Place Cosmetix Spa, located at Shop #5, Winchester Business Centre, 15 Hope Road, Kingston 10. Dr Robinson is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology, Jamaica, School of Oral Health Sciences. She may be contacted at 630-4710. Like their Facebook page, Dental Place Cosmetix Spa, for an opportunity to take advantage of weekly specials.

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