The summer months are the perfect opportunity to stay on top of your children’s dental health. All of the fun activities associated with summertime, such as barbecues and festivals, are also linked to poor eating habits. All of your children’s favorite warm weather treats—ice cream, s’mores, ice pops, cotton candy—are high in sugar and promote tooth decay. Unless tooth decay is prevented early on, the complications can be long-term for the child. Tooth decay will eventually lead to infections of the gum and teeth. Severe tooth decay can also negatively impact a child’s self-esteem. Moreover, children with cavities have a higher risk for having cavities in adulthood.
Schedules during the summer usually change. Normal household routines, including daily brushing and flossing, may fall to the wayside during vacations. A Healthy Smile Dentistry, located in Florham Park, NJ, urges all parents to keep their kids teeth healthy during the summer by practicing good oral hygiene.
No Vacation from Healthy Dental Habits
Although schedules are hectic in the summer, you can’t forget about talking to your children about the importance of taking care of their teeth. A child should be brushing or flossing at least twice a day. Although the child may have been good about remembering to brush during the school year, you may need to remind them more often in the summer. After a long day at the pool, children may be ready to drift off to sleep without brushing. However, brushing and flossing will help get rid of any bacteria left behind from food.
The summer is a good time of year to buy new toothbrushes and make sure your kids are using an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste. A common mistake kids make is not spending enough time brushing. Instead of brushing furiously for 10 seconds, children should be brushing their teeth for two minutes. Musical toothbrushes with two minute of a song playing can help them better time their brushing. Smartphone applications are also available to play music while the kids are brushing and also demonstrate proper techniques.
Demonstrate for your child proper brushing techniques. The correct way to brush is to start by holding the toothbrush at a slight angle with the bristles pointed towards the gum line. The child should then use gentle circular movements back and forth over the teeth. If the child is struggling with the right technique, then a powered toothbrush is a good choice. According to the Mayo Clinic, powered toothbrushes offer better protection against plaque and gingivitis.
Brushing and flossing is still essential even when you are traveling. Remember to pack toothbrushes and travel-sized toothpaste for road trips. When driving long distances, use a rest stop as a place for teeth brushing. Bring along disposable toothbrushes and toothpaste for your hotel stays.
Healthy Diets=Healthy Teeth
Although the occasional treat is fine, a child’s diet should not fall to the wayside completely during the summer. Sugary snacks and drinks can wreck havoc inside your child’s mouth. Even if routines are changed, try to start off each day with a healthy breakfast. Good breakfast options can include eggs, smoothies, yogurt and fruit, oatmeal, and whole grain cereals. For lunch and dinner, fill their plates with mostly vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.
With all the activity kids are doing during the summer, they must stay hydrated. For the majority of drinks, a child should consume water. Milk is a good option to serve with mealtimes. Limit your family’s intake of lemonade, soda, and juice. Carbonated beverages and acidic juices can wear down tooth enamel. If they drink these beverages, using a straw can help reduce exposure to the acids. For water, fluoridated water is best for strengthening the enamel and reducing chances for tooth decay.
Finding healthy drinks and snacks on the go during the summer can prove challenging. Many food stands and vending machines only offer unhealthy options. Pack your own healthy snacks for the kids that are low in sugar and high in nutritional value. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the following healthy snacks for kids during the summer:
- Fresh fruit
- Dark chocolate
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry doesn’t recommend foods such as caramels, potato chips, and sports drinks for children. Sports drinks are filled with sugar and don’t act as a good thirst quencher. Caramels are loaded with sugar and stick to the teeth. Lastly, potato chips are high in starch, which easily gets stuck between small teeth.
Visit the Dentist
The summer is the perfect time to schedule your kids’ checkup appointments. The summer is a busy time for dental offices, so make sure you schedule early. Also, when you have your appointment early with the dentist, any type of issues can be addressed before the August rush. The last thing you want or need is a child complaining of a toothache while enjoying an out-of-state vacation.
Despite your best efforts, dental emergencies can happen during the summertime. Injuries are more prevalent in the summer due to a child taking part in activities such as swimming, bicycling, surfing, and hiking. Accidents may occur, resulting in a broken tooth. Broken teeth require an emergency visit to the dentist. Before heading to an emergency dental appointment, you should treat the injury by cleaning the area. Have the child rinse his or her mouth out with warm water. Stop any bleeding in the mouth by using gauze. Cold packs can offer temporary pain relief and reduce swelling. If a permanent tooth is loss, hold onto it for the dentist. Place the tooth in salt water to keep it moist until the child arrives for the appointment.
Live near Florham Park, New Jersey? Contact A Healthy Smile Dentistry to book check-up appointments for the entire family. Our pediatric dentists will give your children a positive dental experience and alleviate any anxiety they may have about going to the dentist.