Fall sports are in full swing and given the heat, it’s tempting to send the kids to the field with a flavored sports drink. But, before you set that precedent for the upcoming fall season, you might want to consider the impact it might have on your child’s teeth.
“We have a lot of patients who are starting to exercise, so be careful with sports drinks because they’re very high in sugar,” said Jamie Frey, office manager for Grove Kids Pediatric Dentistry in Wyomissing. “Choosing water over sports drinks is a big tip for parents.”
Mastering back-to-school routines after a less structured summer also means it’s time to get back to good habits.
“It goes back to the routine of brushing and flossing,” Frey said.
Soon you’ll be back preparing meals for your child, and Frey suggests giving your child a helpful reminder after school lunchtime whether they’re packing or eating school lunch.
“When they are at school, children cannot brush their teeth, so Dr. Gufran tells parents to remind their children to drink a glass of water after lunch to wash away the sugar,” he said. she said, referring to Dr. Muzamil Gufran, Grove Kids’ dentist, who specializes in pediatric dentistry.
As for the breakfast time before the children take the bus, it is ideal to allow enough time for them to brush their teeth after breakfast rather than before, especially if they eat things like pancakes in syrup.
Also beware of gummy forms of multivitamins that your child is likely to take daily for breakfast.
“There are so many gummy vitamins that kids love, but it’s really bad because it stays on the teeth,” Frey said. “If they’re going to get it, Dr. Gufran says they should brush their teeth as soon as possible after taking it.”
Creative ways to make brushing fun
For kids who resist brushing, Frey suggests considering creative ways to make it fun. As the mother of a teenage daughter and one in her 20s, Frey said she used a sticker board as a reward system for brushing when her kids were young. It was effective because they loved the stickers.
She also recommended an electric toothbrush from Sonicare that has an app to track toothbrushing. The app provides information that can be used to improve brushing habits.
“There’s an app that connects through a device and shows when you’re brushing and not brushing,” she said. “That makes it fun.”
Frey said some parents play a song and tell their child that when it’s over, they can stop brushing their teeth. For young children who are still beginning to brush their teeth or who don’t like it, Frey offers some tips.
“Parents should come in and do at least a 30-second brushing to get all the stains out,” she said.
August is a busy month at Grove Kids, with more people taking in their children because they need their dental forms completed for school. A child-friendly atmosphere was the basis for opening their pediatric practice last year.
While waiting for their appointment, patients, who are usually infants up to 12 years old, can enjoy the tree house slide. There is also a ‘I spy’ game on the wall where children can try to find a bumblebee or a squirrel.
Each room is decorated with a mural and is equipped with a television, both serving as places of concentration for the children during their appointment.
“We have TVs with Disney+ on them, so when they’re lying down they can focus on a kid-friendly show that they can use,” Frey said.
Many kids who come for a date are nervous, but Frey said seeing the “treasure tower” can help calm them down.
“They see it, so they know they’ll get a token for it afterwards,” she said.
As an incentive to avoid the dreaded cavity filling, Grove Kids will be offering a prize to children who are cavity-free after their checkup.
“It’s something in the future that we’re starting,” she said.
For now, new patients go home with a special price after their visit.
“This summer we made buckets and shovels to go to the beach,” she said.
For children who cannot tolerate dental treatment in cases such as filling multiple cavities, Grove Kids offers an anesthetic that comes to the office two days a month.
“We offer sedation because we don’t want them to have a bad experience,” Frey said. “Dr. Gufran wants every child to have a good experience.
For more information about Grove Kids Dental Pediatrics, visit www.grove.dental/grove-kids.
For more information
Useful resources for your children’s teeth
America’s Pediatric Dentists provides resources for parents of children tailored to different age groups. See www.mychildrensteeth.org.
Back to school smiles
Mouth Healthy offers five questions to ask during your child’s back-to-school dentist visit. See www.mouthhealthy.org/en.