Any significant change in life can throw off your routines. Back-to-school is no exception. Suddenly, everyone is waking up earlier and rushing out the door, while evenings are full of homework and extracurriculars. It’s easy in these times to let things slide. So, before the hectic return to school, take some time to prioritize your family’s health with these tips from us here at Care Dental Center in Carson.
It’s not easy for adults to make healthy choices, especially on a busy schedule, and the same is true for students. One of the best ways to keep kids and adults alike from over-indulging in sugary, unhealthy snacks is through knowledge. Here is a simple activity that can be done at home to remind the family that sugar is more prevalent than we think and to help everyone make better choices.
Begin by getting out a big bag of sugar, some plastic bags, measuring spoons, and a number of common snack and drink containers like soda bottles, cookie boxes, and candy wrappers. Now, have everyone in the family find out what their suggested daily sugar intake should be. This is usually 2-3 tablespoons depending on age and gender. Measure each person’s recommended amount into plastic bags and label them. Then, work together to read the nutrition information for the different snacks and drinks to determine how much sugar is in a serving of each. Measure this into bags and tape them to the containers. These visual representations should surprise everyone, as the average 12-ounce cola contains more sugar than is recommended for a grown man to consume in an entire day! Put these up in your house as a reminder to make healthy choices when eating and drinking.
Finding time for even basic dental health tasks like brushing teeth and flossing can be a challenge when everyone in the house is on different schedules and going in different directions. Making sure everyone is taking care of their teeth can be tricky. Here are a few tips for making this easier.
With younger children, have toothbrush parties! Every night, before the little ones’ bedtime, get everyone (adults, older siblings, etc.) to brush together. This isn’t just about dental health, it’s about finding quality time, even if it’s just two minutes, during the day. Choose a short song to play as you brush, reminding everyone to brush all sides as you go. Keep it light and fun and funny. Kids will look forward to brushing teeth if it means they get a few minutes with everyone.
TIP: Toothbrush parties are a great time to make sure the whole family is flossing as well! When you’re done brushing, take a few minutes to floss your own teeth and the kids’ as well. Using flavored flosses will also help this sometimes tedious and easily-forgotten task to become a part of your routine.
For morning brushing, set an alarm for 10-15 minutes before everyone has to be out the door. When it goes off, literally drop everything and brush. Have toothbrushes and toothpaste in every bathroom and even by the kitchen sink so when it’s time, the tools are close at hand. This can also be a fun and memorable activity if you can keep it low stress and fun.
One of the biggest reasons we make poor health choices is due to convenience. At school, if kids don’t have healthy snack options, they may hit up the vending machine, which is packed with enamel-destroying sugar. For kids of any age, making sure they have a healthy option at hand can limit the added sugar they consume throughout the day.
When it comes to snacks and lunches, keep it simple and fresh. Avoid pre-packaged foods that are full of sugar, sodium, dyes, and preservatives. Instead, toss a healthy mix of vegetables, protein, carbohydrates, and fats into those lunchboxes. Veggie sticks and salads, cheeses, nuts and eggs, and whole grain breads give a variety of flavors and textures and a balanced meal without all the harmful additives.
Shop on the outside of the grocery store. In other words, when food shopping, try to stay out of the inner aisles, which typically contain the boxed and bagged snacks and foods. Instead, do the majority of your shopping in the fresh fruit and vegetable, deli, refrigerator, and bakery sections usually located around the perimeter of the store.
Yes, grabbing a bag of chips or a protein bar might be easier in the moment, but fresh foods are healthier, cheaper, and can create opportunities for quality time that is often lacking during the school year. Here’s how to take the stress out of eating fresh and healthy.
Include the family in snack and meal prep. Choose a day each weekend and get everyone involved in preparing meals for the coming week. Pre-cook proteins, grains, and vegetables for lunches, and assemble snack boxes with lots of healthy options. Variety is key here. Pick up some multi-compartment snack boxes and fill them with nuts, cheese cubes, homemade pickles, fresh veggies, finger sandwiches, and fresh fruits. Including everyone in cutting, cooking, and packing lunches and snacks is fun, teaches new skills, and gives kids ownership of what they eat.
Making a conscious effort to avoid sugary foods and planning ahead will help keep your whole family’s teeth shining and cavity free!
At home, getting the whole family involved in looking after their dental health by setting aside time to brush, floss, and prepare healthy food is a great start, but when it comes to your dental health, regular checkups and cleanings are extremely important. Care Dental Center will take care of all the dentistry needs you can’t. Let our friendly and knowledgeable staff take over. We offer flexible appointments (including same day!) and affordable financing options and payment plans.
To schedule a back-to-school checkup or teeth cleaning that fits with your schedule, call Care Dental Center today at (310) 626-0004!
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