Back-to-School Safety Checklist: Tips to Prevent Emergencies

Tips for avoiding dental emergencies

Prevent emergencies before they happen.

It’s that time of year again: the weather is starting to cool off, the breeze is slowly becoming crisp, and stores are lining their shelves with back-to-school supplies. As parents, there’s a lot to do this time of year, from figuring out your child’s schedule and buying supplies to giving them the rundown on how to be safe at school and on their way home. Whether that means teaching them how to walk to the bus stop safely on their own, putting reflective strips on their backpacks, or packing a first aid kit in case of emergencies, there’s plenty to do!

A huge part of keeping your kids safe involves taking steps to prevent emergencies from happening in the first place. Often, though, parents overlook planning for dental emergencies. After all, so many dental emergencies feel unpredictable. We get a lot of parents asking, “How can we prevent dental emergencies?” Here’s a guideline to help you know what to do to keep your child’s smile as healthy and happy as they are, giving them the tools they need for success as they head back to school this year.

Ensure your child practices a good at-home oral hygiene routine.

Toothaches from severe decay or gum disease can make it hard for your child to concentrate in school and can quickly become a dental emergency, so a good at-home oral hygiene routine is an important part of preventing dental emergencies. Your child’s daily routine should include brushing their teeth for two minutes at least twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and using mouthwash daily once they’re old enough. Generally, kids should start using mouthwash with supervision at about six years old. Baby teeth have a thinner protective layer of enamel than adult teeth do, so decay can take hold and spread faster.

Even though baby teeth will eventually fall out naturally on their own, they have important jobs to do until that time comes! They hold spots in your child’s mouth for their adult teeth and help guide those teeth to erupt properly, helping them come in straighter. Keeping up with an oral hygiene routine like this is a simple and inexpensive way to help keep your child’s teeth healthy—and it builds great habits that your child will benefit from well into adulthood.

Provide a healthy diet for your child.

Your child’s diet can have a surprisingly big impact on their oral health as well as their overall health. A diet with balanced amounts of lean protein, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and carbohydrates provides nutrients your child’s entire body needs to grow healthy and strong, including their teeth. Ensuring your child’s diet includes plenty of these healthy foods and snacks can make a surprising difference in their oral health! Plus, sugary or carbohydrate-rich foods fuel cavity-causing oral bacteria, so it’s wise to limit your child’s access to these types of snacks. Giving them crunchy fruits or vegetables for snacks instead is healthier and will actively help to clean plaque off their teeth as they eat, making it even better for their oral health!

Use a mouthguard to protect your child’s teeth.

Whether they’re at school, playing sports, or goofing off in the backyard at home, kids are incredibly active. Dental injuries like chipped, cracked, broken, or knocked-out teeth aren’t an uncommon children’s dental emergency. Thankfully, getting your child to wear a mouthguard during contact sports—or any activity in which they might fall or suffer a blow to the face—is a simple step, but it can make all the difference for them. Mouthguards are designed to protect teeth and gums from injuries, so they can mean the difference between a trip to an Omaha emergency dental office and your child getting back up to continue the game.

Prevent your child from using their teeth as tools.

Teeth are strong and designed to stand up to daily wear and tear, but they aren’t meant to be tools! Any time your child (or you!) tries to use their teeth to open bottles, tear plastic packaging, or crack nuts, they put stress on their teeth. These kinds of actions can easily lead to cracks, chips, or breaks in their teeth, so make a habit of stopping them and telling them to get a proper tool to do it instead. Teaching them this lesson when they’re young is an easy way to protect their teeth.

Visit the dentist regularly.

During your child’s regular dental checkup, they get a professional dental cleaning to remove buildups of plaque and hardened tartar on their teeth. This actively helps prevent oral health issues like cavities and gum disease, especially because tartar, which is hardened plaque, can’t be removed during your child’s regular at-home oral hygiene routine. These appointments are also vital for spotting cavities, gum disease, or failing fillings early so your child’s dentist can treat potential problems sooner. These chances for early diagnosis and treatment prevent the need for future emergency dental visits due to oral health issues, but they also mean smaller, less invasive—and typically less expensive—treatments. As a result, it’s best to take your child to visit their dentist in Omaha every six months.

Report dental problems at the first sign.

As a rule of thumb, the average cavity doesn’t hurt because tooth nerves are located in its center. It’s only when decay has reached the nerve that it starts to hurt, so it’s wise to call your child’s dentist as soon as you notice signs of a potential oral health issue. If their regular appointment is still a few months away, call and see if you can get an appointment scheduled sooner. Waiting gives oral health issues time to get worse and risks them developing into a dental emergency. On the other hand, getting issues identified as quickly as possible gives your child better treatment outcomes, so it’s definitely worth a visit to the dentist!

As you get your child ready to venture into their next school year, we know you want them to stay safe and healthy—and that includes their teeth! Thankfully, there are many ways you can help prevent dental emergencies from happening in the first place, even when you aren’t around. If you have any questions about how you can prevent or prepare for potential dental emergencies or if it’s time for your child to visit their dentist, feel free to call and schedule a consultation at any time!