It's time to shed the dog days of summer to assume a more regular routine now that your kids are headed back to school. But don't start celebrating just yet: Before you're officially ready, you'll need to finish back-to-school shopping. In a flurry of trying on shoes, shopping for fall clothes, grabbing uniforms and getting haircuts, your kids' oral health shouldn't be overlooked. By putting together oral care kits for each of your children – regardless of age – you can rest assured they walk in their classroom wearing the most important thing of all: a bright, healthy smile.
Ages 5 to 8
From age 5, children can be trusted to brush properly, so long as they've been taught how to brush. Nonetheless, they might avoid the strong taste of toothpaste, so look for something more mild. Flossing is also vital, but kids might need help or flossers to get the job done. Here's what to put in your elementary-aged child's oral care kits:
- A brand-new toothbrush. Changing toothbrushes with each quarter is an easy way to remember when to toss an old toothbrush.
- Mild toothpaste, such as Colgate® SpongeBob™ Anticavity Flouride.
- Floss or flossers
Don't forget to schedule a back-to-school dentist appointment to start the year off right and help instill healthy habits for life. You can also remind your child to care for his or her teeth with a sticker chart, but be sure to choose a sugar-free reward for regular brushing, like a book from the school book fair.
Ages 8 to 12
As your child enters those tricky "tween" years, you might notice a change in overall hygiene. The onset of puberty means more personal care and wearing deodorant, so it's a great time to bring up better oral hygiene as well. Growing up might also mean changes in meals, taste and preferences, so don't be surprised if your tween wants to ditch the character products for something a little more mature. Look for the following:
- A battery-powered toothbrush. Find one with a smaller head than adult toothbrushes and in cool, tween-approved colors.
- A toothpaste of their choice. Letting them pick a favorite flavor can promote regular usage.
- A small travel- or bathroom-style pouch to hold all the new hygiene supplies your tween is carrying.
Adding these dental supplies to this kit can act as a reminder to use them along with shower gel, deodorant and other products during gym class.
This is also an excellent age to start thinking about orthodontia; kids as young as 7 can become eligible for braces in the interest of straighter teeth, according to the Nemours Foundation. When you see your dentist for a back-to-school appointment, ask for a referral to an orthodontist if you have concerns about alignment of your teeth or your bite.
Ages 12 to 18
Teens are always running late and short on time, so assemble an oral care kit that makes hygiene a quick part of the daily routine. Otherwise, a time-pressed teen might skip toothbrushing altogether. Look for a:
- New toothbrush. Look for one with a tongue cleaner, like the Colgate® 360° toothbrush, to help banish bad breath.
- Travel mouthwash. This helps streamline the morning routine, and gives your kids a way to freshen up at their locker.
- Disposable mini toothbrushes, such as Colgate® Wisp® Icy Bubble™. These don't require toothpaste and are perfect to stash in backpacks and lunchboxes for teens who need a quick touch-up after meals.
If you find that your teen struggles with daily care, set a reminder on his phone. A daily alarm is an easy way to remember to brush after lunch. You can also talk to your dentist about using whitening toothpaste and products with your teen, especially if your teen is self-conscious about a less-than-bright grin.
With another summer packed with fun and activities in the books, make sure to take care of all their hygiene needs. Putting together oral care kits at the start of the semester can make for a year of great habits.