A COVID-19 Back-to-School Oral Health Checklist for Parents & Kids: Getting back on Track!

As a new school year approaches, we know things can get hectic for busy parents. When many schools closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, daily routines skidded to a halt for many of us, it is easy to let habits change, including regular brushing and flossing. Researchers looked at 8,500 children and found that those with consistent habits were nearly 50% more likely to demonstrate good social-emotional health than those without. While the start of the year may look a little different this fall, it’s a good idea to transition back to some of the dental routines before the homework starts rolling in and parents are juggling work, remote or hybrid learning and, eventually, in-person school. Over 40% of kids have cavities, but consistent brushing and flossing help keep kids on the right track and out of the dental office for emergencies. Plus, healthy routines boost self-esteem and confidence to help now and in the future!

Here is our handy back-to-school checklist for parents. Mix and match these oral health ideas, or try all of them!

  • Keep them safe If your kiddo will be doing hybrid learning and going to in-person classes, chat with them about how to stay safe, including how to properly wear a mask, the importance of handwashing, and safe social distancing. Start to work on routines like washing hands as soon as they come home, as well as being sure to pack masks and hand sanitizer and check their temperature in the morning before going to school. The CDC has a back-to-school safety checklist for parents to use when the school year kicks off.
  • Set Up a Designated Homework Station The reality is there will be at least some amount of distance learning this school year. Having a designated area just for remote learning and homework that’s free of distractions can help kids focus and be more productive. It also allows you to reclaim some of your living space! If you don’t have a lot of room, even a corner works. Add a small desk or table, a comfy chair and all of the necessary school supplies so there are no excuses. You might also want to place a bin or basket there for kids to keep folders and paperwork so it doesn’t get lost or accidentally thrown away.
  • Grab an App! Technology can make a big difference for kids. Take a look at one for younger kids, like Brush Up, and bring fun and games into the chore.  Older kids enjoy Brush DJ with a few lively tunes. Yes, even teens give this a high rating!
  • Make a Reward Calendar! For younger kids, print out a calendar page for the month and pull out the crayons. Have kids decorate their own calendars and hang it on the bathroom mirror. Add three stickers to each day: Brushing in the morning, brushing in the evening, and flossing once a day.  Pick a weekly reward that fits your child.
  • Educate! Find and watch a fun video just before brushing that helps kids learn about dental health. Youtube has many short, unique videos for kids that reinforce the reasons for good oral care. Check out this one from SciShow Kids.
  • Join Them! If you have more time at home, you can cook, play games, and even brush and floss together. Grab your tools and play “Follow-the-Leader” with your routine.
  • Use a timer! See if your kids (and you) can go a full two minutes brushing! It seems like a long time, but it makes a difference.

We know there will be a lot of changes this year but, remember, we’re all in this together! Schedule your child’s visit online at www.missionviewdental.com before we kick off another school year or by calling us at 408-945-4333. To find out the measures we’re taking to keep our patients safe, check out our COVID-19 safety protocols here.

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