Summer is officially in full swing, and most children and teens are on a mid-year school break. There may even be some traveling or planning of a trip! It is easy to fall out of a routine this year. To help you and your family have a summer vacation that does not neglect your smile, consider these seven kid-friendly oral health tips:
Depending on your location, this time of year can be blazing hot! Regardless of the heat, staying hydrated is always important for staying healthy. Keep a reusable water bottle handy, so you can remember to hydrate. Avoid filling it with liquids other than water to reduce the risk of developing cavities. Sipping on sugary beverages is known to lead to cavities. If your child still uses a training (sippy) cup, prolonged exposure to liquids other than water can be dangerous to their teeth.
If traveling, pack travel-size oral care products.
If you have a trip planned this summer, consider packing lightly with travel-size toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash. If you are traveling via an airplane, products in carry-on bags must be less than 3.4 ounces in the US. Most travel-size oral products will last you the duration of your trip, but of course, consider how long you will be away and pack accordingly. Plus, most kids travel with smaller suitcases, and these products will fit easier in their bags and provide a sense of independence and ownership of their oral health.
Pick out a new toothbrush
Whether you are traveling this summer or not, this is an excellent time of year to change up your toothbrush. Ideally, your toothbrush should be replaced every three months. When traveling, it is important to store your toothbrush properly to avoid being contaminated with germs. Packing a new toothbrush will ensure you arrive at your destination with a clean one. If you let your child choose their new toothbrush, it may even lead to more excitement to use it!
Shop for tooth-friendly snacks
Summer is a great time of year to shop for fresh produce. For example, farmers' markets and fruit stands are often bustling with freshly grown fruits and vegetables. Allow your child to participate in the picking or shopping process to encourage healthy eating. Avoid sticky gummies or candies and foods containing large amounts of starches and carbohydrates (crackers, cookies, chips). These foods are much more likely to contribute to cavities.
Stick to a brushing and flossing routine
Don't let summer vacation mess up an established oral care routine. Stay consistent with brushing twice daily and flossing once daily. If you are traveling, be sure to implement good brushing and flossing routines on the first day of your trip to avoid getting off track.
Be prepared if there is a dental emergency
If your summer involves some travel, consider doing a little research ahead of time for local dental and medical providers. Dental trauma can occur at any age. Research has shown that school-age children account for 25% of dental trauma cases. Identifying options for care ahead of time can help reduce some of the anxiety that comes with unforeseen accidents.
Schedule a back-to-school dental check-up
Summer is an excellent time to see your dental provider for routine preventive care. Schedules are often more flexible for you and your dental provider, and your child can avoid missing time away from school.
Enjoy your summer vacation and keep a healthy smile by considering implementing some of these tips!
Written by: Kristen Cockrell, RDH, MSDH
Kristen is a Pediatric Registered Dental Hygienist with a passion for preventive dentistry and oral health education. In addition to working full-time as a hygienist and mother to two young boys, Kristen is an oral health expert with Grin Natural.