Summer is a great time to take a break from school and work, but it is not the time to take a break from good dental habits. Healthy summer teeth habits help kids and adults keep their teeth and gums healthy throughout the season.
It’s easy for kids – and adults – to get out of their daily oral hygiene habits. Children tend to wake up later, play all day and neglect their responsibilities. Here are a few tips for maintaining healthy teeth habits throughout summer.
8 Ways to Maintain Healthy Teeth Habits through Summer
1. Snack healthy
Kids have more opportunities to snack during summer, and summer snacking can be hard on teeth. Many of the summertime snacks, such as ice cream and popsicles, contain large amounts of sugar. This excess sugar can lead to cavities, of course. Summertime also means more times at parks and festivals, where the snacks tend to contain even more sugar.
Choose healthy, low sugar or sugar-free snacks. Opt for fresh fruit frozen fruit pops over popsicles, for example, or offer watermelon instead of ice cream.
2. Stay hydrated
Water promotes the formation of saliva, which helps rinse bacteria from your mouth to prevent tooth decay.
Get your kids into the habit of drinking water instead of soda pop or sugar-sweetened drinks. Soda, iced tea, lemonade and fruit juice can contain damaging sugars and acids. Offer fruit-infused water for kids who resist plain ice water.
3. Eat well
Teeth and gums, like the rest of the body, rely on proper nutrition for good health. Fresh food contains the vitamins and minerals your child needs for strong teeth and healthy gums. Dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, contain calcium that keeps teeth strong.
4. Maintain a regular oral hygiene schedule
Summer break can significantly change the household’s schedule, and this can negatively affect your child’s oral hygiene routine. Keep your kids in the habit of brushing and flossing twice a day.
5. Pack healthy snacks for vacations and outings
Healthy snacking is a good habit, but kids sometimes fall into poor summertime snacking habits that can affect their teeth. Help your kids resist the urge to eat crackers, chips and candy while away on vacation, camp or long outings by packing healthy snacks. Pack pears, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and nuts for snacking.
6. Practice good oral hygiene while away from home
Pack a “dental bag” with travel-sized toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, and toothbrushes. Keep the bag where you can grab it easily and look for opportunities to keep your family’s dental care routine on track. If your family stops at a rest area, for example, grab the dental bags and encourage your kids to brush. Establish a routine once you get to your destination so that your family gets back into the habit of brushing and flossing in the morning and evening. Try to keep your travel teeth habits similar to your home oral hygiene routine.
7. Stay safe
Summer activities, such as swimming, riding a bike and time at the playground, are a lot of fun but they can also result in dental injury. Children will trip, get hit in the face with balls, fall off bikes and find a million other ways to hurt themselves during the summer. Between 13 and 39 percent of dental injuries occur while playing sports, according to Colgate. About 80 percent off all injuries affect at least one front tooth.
Get your kids in the habit of wearing helmets for any sports that involve speed or impact, such as bicycling and skating. Mouth guards are one of the best ways to protect your children’s teeth while they play summer sports.
Pool safety is especially important, as the Academy of General Dentistry says that swimming pool accidents are the primary cause of dental emergencies. Kids love to run at the pool, but running on the slippery cement and ceramic pool surfaces can cause a child to slip and fall head first onto the hard ground, potentially chipping or breaking a tooth. Teach your children to get into the habit of walking, rather than running when near pools.
8. Make an appointment with a dentist
Summer is a great time for your child’s regular checkup and cleaning because the kids are out of school. A summertime checkup can even prevent a toothache during your vacation by catching small issues before they become big problems. During your child’s visit, ask the dentist for more tips for healthy summer teeth habits.