While this school year looks totally different than years past, it’s still time for your child to get geared up to go back to school. This can be a bittersweet time for both of you.
On one hand, it’s exciting to know your child has another year of learning and making new friends. On the other hand, the new learning structure and safety precautions on top of being in a new grade might have your child feeling anxious, excited, or all of the above.
As a parent, you want to comfort your child so they can return to school feeling excited, confident, and prepared for the school year to come. But where to begin?
What if we told you that to help increase your child’s confidence, it’s best to start with their teeth?
Healthy teeth that make up your child’s beautiful smile not only protect their oral and overall health, but it also builds their confidence. And confidence opens the door to many other benefits in your child’s life.
Having clean, straight teeth means your child is more likely to want to show off that gorgeous smile of theirs. And smiling more often comes with more benefits than you might think.
Smiling Releases Endorphins
To find out why a healthy smile is important, let’s start with the science.
Have you ever felt a “high” after a long run or a good laugh? Part of that is thanks to endorphins.
Endorphins are neurochemicals that get released when you do things like exercise and — you guessed it — laugh and smile.
Not only do endorphins boost your mood, but they’re a natural pain reliever. Less pain and more pleasure in your mind have the same effect on your body.
Some perks of endorphin releases include:
- Boosts self-esteem
- Reduces stress
- Eases depression
All great things for your child to experience before returning to school, right?
When you feel happy, your brain produces endorphins and sends a signal to flex your facial muscles. Once these muscles are flexed, it triggers the reward system in your brain. This, in turn, causes a second increase in endorphins.
So not only do you smile when your brain feels happy, but the action itself makes you happier, too. That means that smiling is a great way to instantly feel a little bit better.
Sometimes to feel happy, you have to smile first!
Smiling Can Help Them Make Friends
Sometimes, contagion is good — at least when it comes to smiles.
Just as smiling makes us happier, it can help others feel better, too. When we see someone else smile, it triggers something in our brain called mirror neurons.
When you see someone smile, smiling back is often a reflex caused by these mirror neurons. When you smile back, you get that same increase in happiness we mentioned earlier.
Mirroring someone else’s smile creates a larger boost of happiness than smiling by yourself. In fact, sharing a smile releases about the same amount of endorphins as 2,000 chocolate bars — and it’s a lot better for your teeth!
When your child shares a smile with a new classmate, it helps the other person develop trust and appreciation for your child. That’s a great way to start a close friendship!
Healthy Smile, Healthy Body
Straight, clean teeth can also help your child avoid serious health issues down the road. Tooth decay caused by the build-up of plaque can cause problems that go far beyond the teeth themselves.
When left untreated, plaque can cause tooth decay. Tooth decay allows harmful bacteria to seep into the gums and bloodstream, leaving kids at higher risk of diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
It can also cause early tooth loss, which can result in their adult teeth crowding together when they grow in. This can result in your child needing braces for a longer period of time.
When your child’s teeth are straight and their bite is aligned, it makes it much easier to keep them clean with routine brushing and flossing. There are fewer gaps where food and debris can get trapped, and their teeth won’t be affected by grinding which can be caused by a misaligned bite.
How to Help Your Kids Have a Healthy Smile
Now that you know the valuable benefits of clean teeth and healthy gums, it’s time to go over how to help your child achieve and maintain a healthy smile.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
The first and most important thing you need to do to help your kids have a healthy smile is to make sure they stick to their oral hygiene routine. Not only will this keep their teeth clean, but their breath will be fresher, too.
For school-age children (age 3 to 12), this routine includes:
- Brushing twice a day for two minutes each time with a pea-size amount of toothpaste, preferably a toothpaste that contains fluoride since fluoride helps strengthen and protect teeth.
- Flossing every night to help get the places between their teeth that their toothbrush can’t reach.
- Scheduling a kids’ dental care check-up every 6 months so the children’s dentist can catch any oral health issues early and treat them early.
Use Mouth Guards
Whether your child is playing contact sports at school or just skateboarding around in the driveway, you’ll want to be sure your children’s teeth are protected from chipping or falling out. That’s where mouthguards come in handy.
Mouthguards fit around your child’s teeth, helping prevent any damage that can be caused by a sudden impact, like a fall or being struck with a soccer ball. Have your child wear a mouthguard before doing any physical activities where they might be at risk of sudden impact.
A healthier smile means the confidence to smile more, and smiling more builds more confidence. What a wonderful cycle to help your kid feel comfortable at school!
By making sure your child’s teeth and gums are clean and healthy, you’re setting your child up to be more confident, make friends, and avoid health problems down the line. If that isn’t a good back to school resolution, we don’t know what is!
Get started by visiting your California kids’ dental providers at Children’s Choice to get personalized tips on where to start. Book your appointment today.