Children’s Oral Healthcare In Changing Times

How to care for your children’s teeth, now and when they eventually return to school

It hasn’t yet been confirmed, but if reports are accurate, it seems that a return to school for year 6 pupils may happen on June 1st. As with coming out of lockdown generally, this is likely to be phased, and, depending on the results, it is likely that other years will follow shortly afterwards.

With this potential start date just under a month away, the team at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice feel that this would be a good time to assess or reassess how you are helping your children to take good care of their teeth and gums during these difficult times.

The current situation

Children are just as much individuals as we adults are. Some children will have been quite disciplined and done their (home) schoolwork, whereas others will have found this more difficult during lockdown. It is understandable that this might be the case, with some children having higher anxiety levels at this time. Parents often respond to this by giving their children more leeway in certain areas, such as what and when they eat. There is no need to feel guilty about this. We all want our children to feel as relaxed and safe as possible and if sweets help with that (within reason), then that is fine.

The reality though is that too many sweets will be harmful to their teeth, whatever our intentions. So, as things appear to be slowly heading towards at least some form of normality, now might be a good time to rein things in a little.

The same applies to their tooth care regime. The chances are that the times when they have brushed their teeth have been a bit more haphazard than normal. As they will have a more rigid routine as they return to school, it may be a good idea to work towards reintroducing regular times for brushing their teeth. This will help them to remember to do it and will ‘roll over’ when they start school again, rather than becoming yet another thing that changes.

On returning to school

Although they will soon get back into a routine, there is little doubt that going back to school will come as something of a shock to the system for some children. Having had a lengthy period of time of doing schoolwork more or less when they want, watching TV and maybe lazing around the rest of time, they will have to get up on time and work consistently during the day. Especially when they first start back, a child who has become used to taking it easy, may struggle to get ready for school on time. One thing that sometimes gets forgotten in this rush, is the morning brushing of their teeth. As a parent, you may wish to remind them and perhaps even supervise to make sure that it is done well enough.

Night time brushing is very important too and going to sleep with teeth and gums coated in sugar is never a good idea. You will probably need to remind your children to brush their teeth before going to bed, and indeed, possibly even have to ‘nag’ a little to ensure it’s done.

If your children have a packed lunch at school, it is time to start thinking about shopping for this or you may end up filling their boxes with lots of less tooth friendly snacks. Even many ‘healthy’ snacks such as cereal bars often contain quite high amounts of sugars. Do a little research and try to come up with some tooth friendly ideas that you think your children will enjoy. Perhaps use some of the time left at home with them to discuss this and come to a happy compromise.

Although we are currently none the wiser about an opening date for our Burton dental surgery, it is safe to assume that as talk of coming out of lockdown increases, that day is becoming closer. Unfortunately it is quite possible that when we do, there may be restrictions on the procedures that can be performed, together with even more stringent measures to help prevent cross-contamination. For those of you who have had routine check up appointments cancelled, we will do our best to rearrange these as soon as we can and where possible, we will prioritise urgent cases.

We hope that you are all staying safe and adhering to the current guidelines. The virus may be less prevalent now but sticking to social distancing etc will help to make this even better news and hopefully enable some sort of normality to return as soon as possible.

From all at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, we wish all of our Burton patients well and look forward to seeing you all again soon.