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Back to School with Growing Smiles

Back to School

Uniform bought? Tick

School bag selected? Tick

Lunch box open and ready to fill? What do you put in it? What will they eat? What will be easy to make and reasonable to buy?

You want your children to be healthy and happy. I’ve yet to see anyone put dental treatment on the top of their wish list, so how can you help create that super smile for the school photos?

Break time snacks are often a bone of contention! Between meals, snacks should be sugar free. Fresh fruit, vegetables, plain rice cakes, plain bread sticks, plain toast etc. Dried fruit is high in sugar and can be bad for teeth, so only ever give it to children with meals. Encourage children to eat breakfast before they go to school to avoid snacking/sugar cravings mid-morning?

Drinks – Stick to water and milk (not flavoured) to drink. Water is great for health and a hydrated brain works best! Warm water isn’t much fun so try adding some ice cubes or even filling the bottle 1/3 full water and freezing overnight (make sure the bottle is ok to go in the freezer!), top up in the morning and water stays cold all day. If your child won’t drink anything without a flavour, use sugar free diluting juice – well diluted – 1 part juice to 10 parts water.  Save money by not buying fizzy drinks. Keep these for special treats.

Snack foods – fruit and veg are always great for growing children. Make it fun – cut up and put in a colourful container to create a more appetizing snack. Often it’s how it is presented, so taking the time to make it a bit more interesting can be well worth the effort.

Natural yoghurt with fruit added. Many yoghurts have added sugar and although often seen as a ‘safe’ snack these can be a source of hidden sugar. Read labels – check the ingredients list for anything ending in ‘ose’ (glucose, sucrose, fructose, lactose, maltose) – these are all forms of sugar, as are honey, agave, molasses and syrups like corn and rice syrup. The higher up the ingredients list, the more sugar the product contains. http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/truth-about-sugar

A ham, cheese or other savoury sandwich – lots of fun cutters are available to make shapes which can either be eaten at break time or lunch.

Bored with sandwiches? Try wraps, cheese and crackers, or a crunchy salad bowl. For younger children try rolling fruit inside thin sliced cooked meat, spread with low fat cheese spread or marmite. Or how about cucumber crackers (a slice of cucumber) with tuna on top or just a little tub of berries to nibble on. Hard boiled eggs, chicken legs, hummus and veggies to dip and dunk, mini quiche etc. Try to be creative and plan ahead. Involve the children – is there something you can prepare at the weekend and freeze to use during a busy week? Think about healthy teeth treats e.g. Xylitol sweets like Tingz (as long as stocks last) or Peppersmith lemon mints (Xylitol can reduce bacteria growth by up to 90% & prevent bacteria from sticking, meaning much less chance for cavities. It also helps repair damaged teeth.) Try Whitewash Remineralising Toothpaste for all the great benefits of fluoride AND xylitol).

Think about how it is packaged – it may look lovely on the kitchen counter but once bounced about in a school bag and put through a few 360 degree rotations it may not look as appetising! Growing Smiles can help with ideas for sugar free snacks and healthy meals for kids. Keep an eye on the Growing Smiles Facebook and Twitter feed for ideas and suggestions.

Remember – The more frequently sugar of any form is put in the mouth the more likely the result will be tooth decay. The more frequently acidic food and drink are taken the more likely the result will be acid erosion.  Try to keep these things to mealtimes only and avoid anything sugary the hour before bedtime.  Encourage eating at mealtimes and reduce snacking in general.

Brush teeth at night time and one other time each day (best before breakfast – any acid consumed makes the enamel porous, and brushing immediately after an acid attack can wear the tooth surface).

What Toothbrush?  One with a small head to reach all the nooks and crannies around the teeth and that the children like (see the Rockabilly brushes – hygienic as well as fun – they sit upright keeping bristles out of contact with other brushes – they wobble but don’t fall down!)

Which Toothpaste   One with fluoride to strengthen enamel and help prevent decay. Try GS mild mint OHP toothpaste 1450ppm

How much paste?

0-3 years – a smear of toothpaste no less than 1000ppm Fluoride

3-6 years – a pea sized blob of toothpaste over 1000ppm Fluoride

6 years+ – a pea sized blob or smear of toothpaste with 1350-1500ppm Fluoride

Children should be encouraged to spit out but not rinse after brushing to get the maximum benefit from fluoride toothpaste.

Parents should supervise brushing and brush for children at least once each day (try a Mam brush). Rule of thumb – if they can’t tie their shoelaces they can’t clean their teeth thoroughly – but don’t let this be set in stone. If they aren’t spending enough time (minimum 2 minutes – a Timer helps) or brushing every surface of every tooth, they need help!

If using a battery or rechargeable toothbrush use it correctly (Whitewash Oscillating Rotating brush) – get advice on how to brush properly, Growing Smiles will be happy to help.

Medicines – does your child have a medical condition that requires regular medication? If so always ask for sugar free medicines. Rinsing the mouth with water after taking medication can help – especially with inhalers.

Sports – you‘ve got all the new kit but have you got a new mouth guard? If your child plays a contact sport they are at risk of having an injury to their mouth and teeth. A properly designed, and professionally made mouth guard is essential to prevent athletic oral/facial injuries. It is compulsory for some sports but make sure it’s worn. Consider what you would do if an elbow in the face or similar knocked out or smashed your child’s smile to smithereens? Apart from the immediate pain, shock etc you may be setting your child up for long drawn out and potentially costly dental treatment, possibly involving wearing a denture and/or having a dental implant placed when they are an adult. Will this have an impact on their life? Most certainly –not just physically but emotionally as well – it can really knock their confidence as well as potentially impact on speech.

The investment of a properly fitting mouth guard made by a dental professional is by far more preferable to closing the stable door after the event. Many dental practices have offers on custom made sports guards for school children. Give them a ring and put it on your ‘To do before September’ list. Growing smiles should be protected!  Don’t forget to look after a mouth guard – you wouldn’t let your child put dirty sports gear back on so make sure the mouth guard is cleaned thoroughly. The GS oral appliance care kit is just the thing for keeping mouth guards, orthodontic retainers etc clean and hygienic.

A beautiful smile is a gift we can all give our children with a little effort. Nature and nurture influence a healthy smile for life. Why not book a home visit for personalised preventive advise in your own home, or arrange a Happy Huddle with some friends or a group you are involved in. Growing Smiles are here to help you and your family and friends to a healthier smile.

Keep smiling and enjoy the rest of the school holidays! 🙂

About Growing Smiles – Growing Smiles (GS) offers a complementary therapy to dental visits in the form of lifestyle coaching. A GS coach assesses individual risk to oral health and teaches skills and techniques required to prevent dental disease, emphasising the importance of 365 days a year home care. One to One and group sessions aim to reduce the risk of dental disease and their impact on general health and well being, helping clients to a healthier smile.  The GS online shop offers a range of carefully selected oral care products with guidance on their use. Happy Huddles are the GS party plan for healthy smiles and fresh breath


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