Summer is here, and you might be looking for some tips to help children maintain good dental habits during this season. The busy schedule kept during the school year gives way to swimming lessons, picnics and random activities that keep you hopping! The summer sun brings summer fun and although it’s perfect for spending time together, late nights or vacations usually means kids have random bedtimes, they don’t eat right and maintaining good oral hygiene can be difficult. Here are some tips to help children maintain good dental habits during the summer:
Maintain Your Brushing Routine
Daily oral hygiene is as important in the summer as it is for the rest of the year. Vacations, camp and days spent at the pool can make it more difficult to do. Although it’s tempting to just go to bed after a late-night fireworks display, don’t let them skip brushing their teeth before bed. No matter how eventful the summer months become it’s important that your children do the following:
- Brush twice a day for two minutes each time with fluoride toothpaste using a soft bristle toothbrush.
- Floss at least once a day to remove plaque and food from between their teeth
- Do you need to replace their toothbrush? Toothbrushes should be replaced every 3 months. Maybe it’s time to toss the old, worn out “germy” ones.
- It might be a good idea to place some disposable toothbrushes in the glovebox for those days away from home when you can’t brush your teeth. These disposable products are perfect for keeping your teeth clean anywhere and at any time.
Limit Sugary Drinks and Sweet Snacks
Prevent the summer from being an “acid attack” on your children’s teeth by providing healthy snacks. When the kids are home all day, they may get bored and turn to “grazing” in the kitchen, which can be damaging to their dental health. If they are going to graze, make sure they have healthy snacks to turn to.
A healthy breakfast should tide them over for several hours, and taking a break from eating between meals is good for their teeth. This allows time for saliva to bathe the teeth, and wash away leftover food particles. Saliva also helps their teeth become stronger. If there is a constant barrage of food being eaten, their teeth are being attacked by acids from the food, so give it a rest and don’t let them eat between meals on a whim.
Tips for Protecting Your Child’s Teeth from Between Meal Munchies
- Rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking anything acidic and wait for at least one hour before brushing your teeth.
- Chew sugar-free gum after eating to help make more saliva which neutralizes the acids that form in your mouth after eating.
- On these hot summer days, it’s common to sip and snack during sports events, festivals, parades or other outdoor activities. Watch your children’s intake of popsicles, juice and soda. Sugary drinks are okay to enjoy as a rare treat, but not often. Carbonated and acidic drinks cause dental erosion and add empty calories to their diet.
- If they are going to drink carbonated beverages, use a straw. This reduces the acid attacks on your teeth by pushing the drink to the back of your mouth.
- Make sure to have plenty of water on hand to beat the heat and offer milk to drink with meals. Fill your own reusable water bottles from the tap and store them in the refrigerator. It’s better for the environment and your children will get fluoride from the tap vs. from pre-bottled water. The fluoride will strengthen their teeth, and the water will prevent dehydration, which can easily happen during the heat of the summer.
- When it comes to snacks, stock a healthy kitchen and snack smart. Cut up vegetables and fruit to keep in the refrigerator and ready to eat. It makes it easier for children to reach for healthy foods instead of cookies, chips and candy.
Offer your kids whole, unprocessed foods at snack time instead of prepackaged snack foods.
Ideas for healthy snacks:
- Plain popcorn
- Nuts and trail mix
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Smoothies made with fruit and vegetables (instead of fruit juice), yogurt and whole milk or almond milk
- Celery or apples with peanut butter
Make Your Back-to-School Dental Appointment Now
Some schools require back-to-school dental visits, and these checkups are a good way to ensure your child’s teeth stay healthy. It is a good idea to make your child’s back-to-school appointment early in the summer to avoid the August rush. Visiting the dentist regularly can help your child’s smile stay healthy all year long and enjoy a clean bill of dental health for summer. The last thing you want is a child suffering from a toothache while away on summer vacation.
Dental emergencies can happen, even after following every precaution. It’s a good idea to pack an emergency dental kit to take along for vacation “just in case”. If you do encounter an emergency, get to the dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, an emergency kit will help get you through the initial incident.
Good Dental Habits During the Summer – Learn More!
Dr. Ashley Niles provides comprehensive dentistry for the whole family. In addition to routine dental services, Dr. Niles has the ability to treat dental problems such as complex full mouth restoration, oral surgery, and cosmetic dentistry.
Make your children’s dental health a priority this summer and contact our office or call (720) 744-0001 to schedule your dental appointment now. Dr. Niles has the skills and expertise to take care of your dental needs and the dental needs of your whole family. Located in Niwot, Colorado at 136 2nd Ave. Suite 101, Dr. Niles provides dental care to patients in Niwot, Boulder, Longmont and other areas of northern Colorado.
Summer can really throw your routine off schedule, but by following these oral health tips for summer, your kids can make it through with great oral health.