During the school year, most kids become accustomed to the routine of getting up early, eating breakfast, and brushing their teeth before heading to school, then brushing again before bed. But once summertime rolls around, many kids get a break for a couple of months and all that routine goes out the window. No matter how vigilant most parents are, it’s hard to keep young ones in the mindset of maintaining good oral health when they’re sleeping in and staying outside later to finish a basketball game.
However, there are some things you can do to keep your child’s teeth healthy during the hot summer months, such as making sure there are nutritious snacks in the pantry and offering them water instead of sugary drinks. Here are some of the best tips for keeping your little one’s smile bright.
Besides making sure your child is brushing and flossing regularly, it’s also helpful to book them a dentist appointment to make sure they’re good to go before vacations and trips. Also, communicating with your child about the dangers of running around slick pool areas or jumping on trampolines with other children is imperative. Kids will be kids, but letting them know how to keep from getting a mouth injury could prevent a painful accident.
Snacks and drinks
Keeping healthy snacks around–such as fruit, granola bars, and raw veggies–is a great way to limit your child’s sugar intake during the day and keep those pearly whites free from plaque. Help them make good choices when it comes to hydration and keep bottled water and single-serving bottles of milk in the fridge. One hundred percent juice is great, but sometimes even those contain quite a bit of sugar. Some foods, like yogurt and others that are high in calcium, even have the added benefit of helping your child sleep better.
Losing those baby teeth
Kids will begin to lose their baby teeth at a variety of ages, usually starting around 6, and it’s important to remember that every child is different when it comes to how many they’ll lose and how long it will take each one to come out. Some children don’t have adult teeth waiting to come in behind particular baby teeth (this is a hereditary trait that can be passed down from either parent), so they may only lose a few. Others will lose them one right after the other.
It can be tempting to want to pull on one that looks like it’s barely hanging onto the gums, but pulling teeth before they’re ready to come out can do damage or cause your child unnecessary pain. It’s important to let it happen naturally. If the tooth is dangling and you are afraid your child might swallow it, check with your dentist to see if they can help.
For most kids, summer is a time to stay up a bit later, play outside often, and have sleepovers with friends, and all of those things can lead to forgotten oral health habits. It might be helpful to set an alarm to help your child remember to stop what they’re doing and brush, especially if they’re away from home. Make it fun by buying them a special “away” toothbrush and paste to use when they have overnights.
If your child has braces, it’s especially important for them to remember to brush after every meal and take special care not to eat foods that could get stuck, such as popcorn and chewy candy. It’s also a good idea to check them out yourself once in awhile to make sure there are no loose brackets or wires causing your child pain.
Helping your child keep up with their oral health can take some patience, but there are lots of things you can try to help them remember to take care of their mouths. Sometimes a bit of planning can go a long way!
Sean Morris is a former social worker turned stay-at-home dad. He knows what it’s like to juggle family and career. He did it for years until deciding to become a stay-at-home dad after the birth of his son. Though he loved his career in social work, he has found this additional time with his kids to be the most rewarding experience of his life. He began writing for LearnFit.org to share his experiences and to help guide anyone struggling to find the best path for their life, career, and/or family.