If you worry about your kindergartner's dental health, you're not alone. Many parents worry about their children's teeth and gums, especially when they enter big-kid school. Although most schools serve kids healthy meals during the day, some institutions host activities during the month that expose students to sweet treats and drinks. These treats can easily lead to tooth decay. Learn how these fun activities affect your child's dental health over time.
How Can School Activities Affect Your Child's Teeth?
Some schools set up bake sales and movie days for their young students. These activities may include cakes, cookies, popcorn, and other tasty treats children love to eat. The treats may contain refined or artificial sugar, which is one of the catalysts for tooth decay.
Refined sugar converts to carbohydrates once it settles on the surfaces of your child's teeth. Carbohydrates attract bacteria, which use the substance as food. The combination of carbohydrates and bacteria can create the sticky, filmy substance commonly called plaque. Once plaque forms on your child's baby teeth, it can produce a strong acid that weakens the enamel on their teeth.
Weakened tooth enamel is vulnerable to calcium, phosphorus, and other mineral loss. Minerals protect teeth from decay by strengthening the enamel. Without sufficient minerals, tooth enamel softens and decays.
You might not notice the initial signs of tooth decay in your child's teeth right away, especially if the decay hides between or behind their teeth. But as the decay becomes worse, your child might complain of toothaches or discomfort when they eat or drink certain types of food, such as sugared cereal or hot chocolate. This is because weakened or decayed teeth can be sensitive to sugar and hot temperatures.
Although you can't prevent your child's school from hosting special activities or events, you can protect your loved one's teeth from them.
How Do You Keep Your Kindergartner's Teeth Safe?
If your child's school provides parents with monthly calendars, take a moment to examine them. School calendars usually inform children of special events ahead of time, such as bake sales and movie days. If you don't want your child to eat certain sweets or treats, tell their teacher before the scheduled event or activity takes place. You can also give the teacher a list of items you do and don't want your child to consume or drink during the events.
Also, supply your child with a dental kit that includes a soft-bristled toothbrush and floss. Your child should keep the kit in their cubbyhole, which may remind them to use it when needed. If possible, ask your child's teacher to allow your child to use their dental kit after meals or during recess, since some classes schedule recess immediately after lunch. If the activities become busy, your child might not have time to brush and floss their teeth.
Finally, take your kindergartner to a children's dental care specialist for a checkup. Most dentists prefer to see their young patients as early as possible. The time allows the dentist to detect the early signs of tooth decay before the disease becomes worse. Tooth decay can lead to lifelong pain, infection, and other dental conditions without timely treatment.
During your child's dental visit, request information on how to strengthen your child's teeth when they're in school. A number of dental providers offer coloring books, pamphlets, and similar media to help parents and schools learn more about tooth decay. You may be able to give some of the media to your child's teacher or other parents and their kids.
If you have concerns about your child's teeth, contact a pediatric dental care specialist immediately.