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Backpacks, Notebooks and Teeth. Oh, My!

Gia Scafidi Leiva is a communications consultant at Kaiser Permanente. With a background in science and journalism, she has a passion for storytelling and loves the challenge of turning complex subjects into engaging content.

Back-to-School Reminders to Keep Your Student’s Smile Bright

Portrait of a happy kid

With the school bell ringing again for children all across the country, the time is right to remind our students how important it is to take care of their oral health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in young people between the ages of 5 and 17. So helping them establish good dental habits early on and seeing the dentist regularly is vital to help ensure a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

Here are a number of useful back-to-school reminders to kick off the school year:

Two is the magic number

To help children establish good dental habits, encourage them to practice the “magic number” two:

  • Brush and floss two times a day
  • Brush for two minutes
  • Replace your toothbrush every two months
  • See the dentist two times a year
  • Have two fluoride treatments each year

Good oral hygiene is especially important for children with braces. Adding a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste to your child’s backpack can help him or her keep food and plaque from getting trapped in the tiny spaces between the braces and wires.

Dental care for teens

We all know that today’s teens have busy lifestyles. But neglecting teeth during the teenage years can do lasting harm. Help your teenager protect his or her smile by:

  • Providing healthy options for on-the-go meals and snacks
  • Limiting soda drinking
  • Ensuring that he or she has regular dental checkups
  • Encouraging athletes to wear mouthguards on the field or court to prevent oral injuries
  • Teaching him or her about the potential dangers of oral piercings

 Make it fun

Fear of the dentist strikes people of all ages. But when they’re young, children are more likely to follow the lead of an adult. By making your child’s dental experience a happy one early on, you set the stage for them later in life. So here are some ways to do just that:

  • Combine dental visits with trips to the park, movies, or a favorite spot for lunch.
  • Avoid using negative words like “hurt” or “shot”.
  • Bring your child to your dental checkups so that the dentist’s office is a familiar place.

The American Dental Association hosts a web site chock full of useful information on oral health at

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