Summer break is upon us! Time for pool parties, summer camps, and hopefully some family vacation time! While summer is a time for kids to be carefree while they don’t have to worry about school, we know that the irregular schedule can bring challenges to parents. You have to coordinate summer childcare, fun activities, and…oral hygiene? It’s a lot to do! Here are some tips on how to help keep your child on their oral care routine during the summer, so their wonderful smiles are all ready for the new school year in the fall!
Eat For Your Teeth!
Whether you’re at a concert in the park or spending a day at the beach, summer is the perfect time for a family picnic! Make sure you don’t use your teeth to open food packaging, like water bottles and popsicles. This can be tempting as it seems convenient, but using your teeth for tasks they were not designed for isn’t good for your child’s smile, or for yours! Your child could risk knocking out their own tooth, or shifting their teeth to incorrect angles over time. Be sure to pack necessary supplies, like scissors, in your picnic basket to avoid this issue.
Summer is also the time for cold, sweet treats. Try replacing these treats with less sugary or even homemade options! Instead of store-bought ice cream, try a super easy banana nice-cream recipe that lets you and your family enjoy the cold, creamy goodness of ice cream without all the added sugars! You can even customize each batch with new flavor and topping combinations to keep things fun and interesting. Homemade popsicles are also pretty easy to make, especially if you have an easy to use (and easy to clean) popsicle mold! Mix your favorite juices (with no added sugars), chunks of fruit, or even milk to make delicious and refreshing popsicles that will be much better for your teeth and your body than the store bought ones.
Whenever possible, encourage your child to drink water instead of sugary drinks like soda. We know we know, you’ve heard this a million times and so has your child, but it really does make a difference in oral and overall health. Try making water more fun with cool reusable water bottles, uniquely shaped ice trays, or silly straws! Of course, it is perfectly alright to enjoy sugary drinks occasionally as a treat, but try to use a straw to minimize tooth damage.
Tooth Travel Tips
Hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy a family getaway this summer! When you’re not at home with all the tools and space you usually have, it can be difficult to keep up with hygiene routines. Be sure to always pack supplies like floss, toothpaste, and a travel-sized toothbrush for each member of your family when you go on vacation. If you forget anything, it is important to note that most hotels actually have toothbrushes and other supplies available for guests, just call the front desk!
It can be difficult to convince your child to take a break from fun and new vacation activities to brush their teeth, so try to make that important time fun too by letting them choose a special vacation travel toothbrush with their favorite color or character on it, or try a special flavored vacation toothpaste!
Stay On Schedule
Even if you’re not on vacation, it can be difficult to keep up with oral hygiene regimens during the summer because of your child’s less regular schedule while they are not in school. Every family is affected by this schedule change differently, so find the routines and tricks that work best for you and your child!
If your child is going to summer camp, you can try some of the tricks we suggested above about dental care while on vacation. Be sure to talk to your child before they leave for camp about the importance of keeping up with their oral hygiene routine while they are having fun at camp. According to our friend, Dr. Chen, who is also a pediatric dentist, kids are much more likely to keep up their dental hygiene if they understand why brushing and flossing are important. Be sure they have enough supplies (toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, etc.) to last the whole duration of the camp. It might also be helpful to talk about some kind of small reward for your child if they come back from camp with clean, well-kept teeth. Maybe you could treat them to a movie or one last beach day!
Summertime often means making new childcare arrangements while you’re at work when your children aren’t in school all day. Be sure to let their new babysitters or caregivers know how you typically help your child manage their oral hygiene routine. This is especially important if your child has braces, retainers, or any other special oral hygiene needs.
Soaking Up The Sun
A nice cool dip in the pool can feel great during the summer, but make sure you’re protecting your teeth! Pools with an improper pH or chlorine balance can wear away the enamel on your child’s teeth. If you have your own pool, make sure you consistently check the chlorine levels with chlorine strips. If you’re visiting a public pool, it is a good idea to do research into how often the pool is cleaned and treated. You can also check the railing and other hardware that comes in contact with the pool water for signs of corrosion, as this might mean that the water is too acidic and may damage your teeth. If this is the case, it may be best to opt for a different place to swim, or maybe a different water activity like a slip and slide or water gun fight!
If your child is spending time outdoors enjoying the sun this summer, make sure that in addition to regular sunblock they are also using SPF chapstick! We often forget that caring for our lips is also a part of oral hygiene and health. Protecting your child’s lips from the sun with help them stay safe and comfortable.
We hope you and your family have a wonderful and fun-filled summer! Be sure to schedule a checkup with us before your child goes back to school in the fall!