Combating Tooth Decay: 3 Ways to Help Kids Get a Passing Grade in Oral Health This School Year

Keep kids healthy and smiling at the cafeteria table with these tooth-friendly lunch ideas and oral health tips from Delta Dental of Arizona.

Keep kids smiling at the cafeteria table with these tooth-friendly lunch ideas and oral health tips from Delta Dental of Arizona.

As a new school year begins for students across the nation, many parents may be thinking about school supplies, earlier bedtimes, and homework. But with tooth decay being one of the most common diseases among children, Delta Dental of Arizona is reminding parents of three key items that shouldn’t be overlooked when preparing kids for a healthy and successful school year:

  • Schedule a back-to-school dentist visit. More than 30 percent of parents report their children between the ages of six and 12 missed school due to an oral health problem.1 Head off dental issues that may distract your child from learning and cause missed class time by scheduling regular dentist appointments for check-ups and preventive care.
  • Encourage children to practice good oral hygiene habits every day. Brushing gently for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste should be part of their morning and bedtime routines, along with flossing at least once a day.
  • Pack healthy school lunches. Quick swaps to cut down on sugary lunchbox standards include:
    • Whole wheat bread instead of white bread
    • Multigrain crackers instead of potato chips
    • Apple slices instead of cookies
    • White milk or water instead of fruit juice
    • Mini carrots instead of candy bars
    • Low fat yogurt instead of chocolate pudding
    • No sugar added jelly instead of regular jelly
    • Grapes instead of raisins
    • Fresh fruit instead of pre-packaged fruit cups
    • Hummus instead of store-bought ranch dip

Eating too much sugar at lunch time, or at any meal throughout the day, is bad for kids’ oral and overall health and can leave them feeling sluggish or struggling to focus on school work. By making simple changes to school lunches, scheduling regular check-ups with the dentist, and teaching kids the importance of incorporating brushing and flossing into their daily routines, parents can help kids establish and maintain a lifetime of good oral health.”

Tooth decay, which is largely preventable, remains one of the most common chronic diseases for children — five times as common as asthma, and seven times as common as hay fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more tips on keeping kids’ smiles healthy all year long, view our children’s dental health articles.

1 Kelton, a leading global insights firm, conducted the 2015 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey. Interviews were conducted nationally via email with 1,325 parents of children ages 12 and under from Dec. 2, 2014 to Jan. 2, 2015. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of error is ±2.7 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

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19 Responses to “Combating Tooth Decay: 3 Ways to Help Kids Get a Passing Grade in Oral Health This School Year”

  1. John Sutcliffe
    08/11/2015 at 12:55 pm #

    A very timely reminder Tiffany.

    Raisins, dried apricots and other dried fruits, not only contain sugar but have a tendency to stick to teeth for prolonged periods.

  2. Deanna R. Jones
    09/14/2015 at 11:20 am #

    I agree, encouraging my children to practice good oral hygiene habits every day seems like an important part of teaching them to have healthy teeth. That’s what I’ve been having trouble with lately. Usually, I’ll have energy in the morning to get them to brush their teeth, but I’m usually too tired to make sure that their teeth are clean before going to bed. Making sure that they brush their teeth for two minutes every morning and evening doesn’t seem like too much work, so I’m sure that should make it easier for all of us. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Joanna S
    09/18/2015 at 6:32 am #

    Such helpful advice. It’s really hard to train children, but these post tells a lot.

  4. Jibon Kumar
    12/11/2015 at 8:35 am #

    I agree with your post. Many of the children’s teeth are safe. Teeth will be protected from many diseases. Overall, this is a very good post. Thanks for the tips!

  5. Mike Plambeck
    02/02/2016 at 9:08 am #

    The part about keeping good oral hygiene daily with kids, it’s so hard. I know when I’m getting my kids ready in the morning its all about this and that and food and out the door, its so easy to forget, then at night before bed everyone’s exhausted and it’s all about bath time, pajamas, read a book and in bed. I REALLY have to force myself to make an effort to remember to brush my kids teeth and we also use childrens fluoride rinse. Great article!

  6. emily bennette
    03/11/2016 at 8:37 pm #

    These are some really good tips on how to keep your children’s teeth healthy. I liked your tip about making sure their lunches are healthy. It might also be a good idea to make sure that they are brushes and flossing.

    • Caroline Jacobson →
      03/14/2016 at 10:49 am #

      Absolutely, Emily! These are just some ideas that should be used on top of a regular brushing and flossing routine 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  7. judy wilson
    11/11/2016 at 11:51 am #

    I remember that my mom used to schedule a back-to-school dentist visit when I was growing up. Now that I have a child of my own, I can see how that helped improve my oral health. I’ve never had very many problems with my teeth, but going to the dentist every year was an essential part of spotting those problems before they could get worse over time. I’m glad that my mom scheduled those dental appointments so that I can have the healthy adult teeth that I have now, so I should do the same for my son now that he’s starting school soon. That way, he’ll have healthier teeth as he grows older.

  8. Martin K.
    03/27/2018 at 10:00 pm #

    It’s definitely no easy task to take care of a kid’s teeth! When they are under a year old it’s just difficult to try to brush their teeth without them fighting you the whole time. As they grow older you just have to keep on them and make it a routine. Also, I didn’t know this, but as soon as their teeth start coming in, a dentist appointment is appropriate. Thanks for the read!

  9. Sutton Turner
    03/30/2018 at 10:30 am #

    I like how you mentioned that cutting down on the sugar in your kids’ lunches, like substituting with grapes instead of sugary raisins. My kids went to the dentist who warned us that they would get cavities if they didn’t take care of their teeth better. I am grateful for the information on how to combat tooth decay!

    • Caroline Jacobson →
      04/02/2018 at 2:54 pm #

      We’re glad you liked it, Sutton!

  10. Isabella
    11/26/2018 at 1:07 am #

    This is an insightful article. Thanks for sharing.

    • Ryan Boulding →
      11/27/2018 at 11:36 am #

      Thanks for reading!

  11. Emily
    12/17/2018 at 4:04 am #

    Your blog is really helpful for kids in leading oral health. Keep it up your good job!

    • Ryan Boulding →
      12/17/2018 at 11:41 am #

      Thanks, Emily! We strive to provide helpful and easily digestible information.

  12. Dental Guide
    12/19/2018 at 5:23 am #


    I like this article…I was searching over search engines and found your blog and its really helps thank you so much

    • Ryan Boulding →
      01/02/2019 at 8:30 am #

      Thanks for reading!

  13. Dental Care
    01/16/2019 at 10:10 pm #

    I completely agree give kids complete fruit than those juice boxes with no nutrients.

  14. Bill Jonas
    02/26/2019 at 10:30 pm #

    Helping children develop healthy habits to care for teeth while they are young is important. These habits can set the stage for good oral health care throughout their entire life.

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