Summer break gives kids a chance to relax, recharge, and have good old fashioned fun. It's also an easy time to let good dental hygiene go astray. But dental care must last all year. Send them back in September with a healthy smile by following these tips to keep kids' teeth healthy all summer.
Summertime means sleeping in for most kids. Parents' schedules are eased a bit as well. This often means the kids get up and get their own breakfast. Sugary cereal is convenient, enticing, and not so good for teeth. Make healthy breakfast options available. Fruit, yogurt, eggs, cheese, milk, and juice are better options for breakfast. They contain calcium, protein, and other nutrients to keep teeth and gums healthy. Eliminate the sugary ones.
Watch out for acid attacks from summer snacks! Replace cookies, candy, and other sugary snacks with fresh fruit and veggie options like delicious summer berries, watermelon, and carrot and celery sticks. Serve them frozen yogurt and healthy smoothies rather than ice cream. Plain water is best for staying hydrated. Keep them away from sodas and fruit juice. Encourage them to drink water by purchasing cute water bottles. Fill them and put them in the freezer for cold water as the ice melts.
Summer break means changes in routines like staying up later at night and getting up later in the mornings. Don't let a new schedule turn into missed brushings. Make sure they still follow the 3-2-1 routine: Three healthy meals, two brushings, and one flossing daily. They should brush for a full two minutes with a good fluoride toothpaste. Simple things like posted brushing calendars can help. Even older children will like collecting stickers, and they can be traded in for summer prizes. Speaking of schedules, no school means its a great time to schedule a routine exam with your family dentist. Plus you won't have to worry about a toothache if you travel out of town.
Swimming, biking, hiking, and other fun summer activities increase the chance of dental injuries and emergencies. The key to keeping kids' teeth safe is to take precautions. Make sure they know to be careful diving, swimming, and riding bikes. They should never run on wet decks and on the concrete by pools. If the unthinkable happens and they do knock out a tooth, don't panic. Have the child rinse with warm water and then head to the dentist as soon as possible. Use gauze to stop the bleeding. If a permanent tooth is knocked out, keep it in milk or water. The dentist will likely be able to anchor the tooth back in.
If you're heading out of town on a road trip, watch out for sugary snacks along the way. Pack apple slices, carrots, nuts, sunflower seeds, and other healthy snacks for munching along the way. Use stops at rest areas as a chance for them to keep up with brushing. Take along a pack of ADA-approved sugarless chewing gum. Research shows chewing for 20 minutes after eating helps prevent cavities. Have fun, and don't forget to have your dentist's phone number in case of an emergency.