These last couple of weeks have been challenging for all of us. My kids and I were on our way home from a Target run on a Friday afternoon when the news broke that schools would be closing due to coronavirus concerns. First, it was two weeks, then two more, and now we know we’ll be home until at least May 1st.
It’s been a lot to take in, hasn’t it?
For our family, it’s been an unusual balancing act between trying to maintain our previous routines while establishing new ones to better fit our new normal. And though getting two kids up and out the door every morning was challenging, having that routine was also incredibly helpful. The kids knew what was expected and we had a rhythm. But during this disruption of our normal school routine, it’s easy to overlook our kids’ oral hygiene and dietary habits. Dr. Bob can help.
Establish a New Routine
Our families need new routines to fit our new realities. Routines help our kids know what to expect and provide them with a sense of security. They also help each family member (even the youngest!) feel like they have something to contribute to the functioning of the family unit. Everyone knows what’s expected of them and it’s easier to accomplish daily tasks. Here are some ways to incorporate and maintain healthy oral habits in our changing routines:
Create a Morning Schedule
It’s hard to get up and at ’em when your final destination is the living room. We all enjoy lazy mornings with nowhere to be. But too many and the lack of structure and unclear expectations begin to frustrate everyone. Sit down as a family and together come up with a new morning schedule. Talk together and figure out what time everyone will be up and exactly what needs to happen before virtual learning begins.
Get your child(ren) an alarm clock so that they can get up and get themselves ready for the day. Then break their tasks down in a clear and easy to remember routine: get up, go to the bathroom, get dressed, make the bed, eat breakfast, and brush teeth. Getting ready for the day will lead to more productivity for them and for you. And if every member of the family is able to contribute to creating the daily schedule, you’ll have a lot more buy-in and cooperation.
Prioritize a Healthy Diet and Plan Healthy Snacks
In times of stress when the kids are asking for snacks every 30 minutes, it’s a lot easier to just hand them something so that you can get back to what you were doing. But remember that a healthy diet is vital to healthy teeth! Taking the time to plan healthy meals and snacks goes a long way. Frequent snacking can actually increase the chance of tooth decay, so put snack time(s) into your family schedule. Offer healthy snack options your kids can choose from like low-fat cheese, veggies, yogurt, and whole fruit. And opt for water instead of juice or sports drinks that can erode tooth enamel and cause cavities.
Re-establish a Bedtime Routine
While you’re making changes to your family schedule, now is an excellent time to re-establish bedtime routines! Set a firm bedtime and include flossing and thorough tooth brushing on the list of evening tasks. Begin flossing your child’s teeth when any two teeth touch and continue until they are able to do it well by themselves. It’s really important because flossing removes plaque from below the gum line and between teeth where a toothbrush isn’t able to reach. It also goes a long way in helping to establish good oral hygiene habits.
For brushing, use fluoride toothpaste. You only need a small amount (about the size of a grain of rice) for children less than 3 years of age. For children between the ages of 3 and 5, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and brush or help them with their toothbrushing until they are able to effectively do so on their own.
For our really little ones, resist the temptation to send them to bed with a bottle of milk. I understand how tempting it can be when everyone’s tired and it could help baby fall asleep… but it can also lead to baby bottle tooth decay. If your child must go to bed with a bottle or a sippy cup, it should contain water only.
Now is a great time to focus on improving our family’s dental health and oral habits. Start where you are and take the steps that you can together!
Open for Emergencies
In compliance with the State of Florida, Dr. Bob Pediatric Dentist has postponed all medically unnecessary, non-urgent, and elective treatments and procedures until at least May 8th. However, Dr. Bob and his team will continue answering their phone and will treat any patients requiring emergency dental treatment. Dental emergencies include toothache, a knocked-out permanent tooth, and chipped/fractured teeth. Dr. Bob’s office is located in South Miami and can be reached at 305-397-8214. You can also follow @drbobpediatricdentist for up-to-date information.
Stay healthy and be safe!