Now that the leaves are starting to change and the temperatures aren’t quite so roasting, you’re probably looking forward to fall and the weather changes ahead.
Funny enough, the change in weather can also make a difference in the way you and your kids’ teeth feel too.
It may sound silly, but cooler air and lower humidity – each a hallmark of changing seasons – can make your mouth feel different and thus effect your oral health. There is also the addition of going back to school in the fall, which can add stress and, if you’re not paying attention, adversely affect your kids’ teeth.
First, let’s look at the changes wrought by school…
Going back to school after a summer of ease can be stressful for any child – even the ones that truly enjoy returning to classes can find themselves distracted and out of kilter for a while due to the change. And if things are truly stressful for your child, it could lead to a number of oral health issues such as:
Grinding and clenching your teeth is an obvious side-effect of stress. And it is likely that if your child is doing this, he or she may not even know it – as it usually happens during sleep. This side effect is much more common in adolescents but can also happen with younger children. The good news is that your child will likely grow out of this habit. You can always check on your child during the night to see if they are grinding or clenching. If they are, tell your dentist about it right away.
Excess stress can do all sorts of things to your body. This includes producing dry mouth – which can also be produced by elongated physical activity without proper water consumption, or by prescription medication. Known as xerostomia, it can result from stress, anxiety, or depression. Drinking plenty of water will help ensure this does not happen. If your child is experiencing dry mouth, be sure to let their dentist know right away. Dry mouth can lead to other oral health conditions, including increased risk for cavities and gum disease.
These painful ulcers can ruin anyone’s day, and research shows that increased stress can make your child more at risk for developing canker sores. This happens because, under stress, the immune system may attack the mouth lining. Once a canker does develop, you can expect it to last for 10-14 days. If your child suffers from one, purchase an over-the-counter aid, such as a numbing agent. If it persists, or your child suffers continuous breakouts, please alert their dentist.
While it is certainly important that you keep a watchful eye on your child when they go back to school for their attentiveness and grades as well as homework, it’s just as important that you do not let them get out of good oral health habits as well.
With fall also comes a return to sports leagues and competition – which means practices and games that can sometimes drift into the late evening hours. On those occasions it is so easy to let your kid skip all of his or her oral health routine and go straight to bed. Do not let that happen. Finding even two minutes to brush before bed will make a difference in the long term. It is so easy to skip out on brushing one night, and the next, and the next…Before you know it, your child has developed awful oral health habits and cavities take root.
Also, during youth sports season comes an increase in sports drinks consumption. Drinking a lot of these sugary beverages always brings an increased risk of cavities, especially in a sport where a mouthguard is required (football for instance) – as the child drinks the Gatorade/Powerade/etc. and then pops that mouthguard in, where it stays for almost two hours. During that time, the child’s teeth are essentially taking a sugar bath, as their saliva is unable to wash away the drink from the surface of the teeth. With that in mind, water is always a good choice for young athletes, who do not always need sports drinks to perform.
Next, let’s look at the actual changes to your oral health because of weather…
Most of us have felt some sort of oral sensitivity to extremely hot or cold food or beverage, but if you have a cavity or other underlying condition, just a simple change in outdoor temperature can lead to you experiencing more – and certainly the temperature is beginning to change during the fall.
If your child is experiencing increased sensitivity, let your dentist know immediately. However, you can also help them by advising them to breathe through their nose in order to decrease dental sensitivity. You can also use toothpaste and mouthwash designed specifically for sensitive teeth. But don’t just switch to these products without alerting your dentist, as it could be a sign of cavities or cracks in your child’s teeth.
Most people think of allergies as a spring thing, but there are plenty of fall allergies too. And they can affect your child just like spring hay fever. That’s because allergies cause their sinuses to swell, putting pressure on the roots of the teeth. As you can imagine, this may result in pain in the teeth. Therefore, it is important to stay on top of allergy medications and not allow your child’s sinuses to become too inflamed.
When the air outside becomes drier – which happens in the fall as compared to our humid summers here in Georgia – it actually can affect the amount of saliva in your mouth. That is because low humidity can cause the body to pull moisture from the nose, mouth, and throat. And when these areas get too dry, it promotes the growth of bacteria in places that will, ultimately affect your child’s teeth. To combat this, make sure that your child is hydrating regularly – with water, not sodas, juices, or sports drinks.
The best defense to any changes in your child’s oral health – school, weather related, or otherwise, is always regular trips to their dentist. That means going at least every six months so that the dentist can stay on top of their health and keep them on track for success.
If you have not selected a dentist for your child, have recently moved and are looking for a new dentist, or are interested in finding a dentist that perfectly understands you child’s oral health and how to treat them in a way they will never forget, please consider Kid’s Dentistry of North Georgia. Simply call us today at 678-450-7011, and we’ll be happy to talk with you in order to ensure your child’s optimum oral health!