The summer vacation is just around the corner, which means your child’s daily habits are about to make a dramatic change. Sleeping in, no daily homework assignments and open schedules can dramatically affect their routines. Of course, this includes their daily oral care, which is never something that should be left by the wayside. At Brooks Dental, the last thing the dentists want to see is your child’s clean mouth become filled with cavities by the time the fall season appears.That’s why we want to highlight essential tips that can make a big difference in your child’s oral health. As a family practice, we understand that every stage of oral development matters, including baby teeth. The longer you keep your child’s primary teeth healthy, the better off their future oral health will be. If you haven’t scheduled your child’s routine exam and cleaning yet, the summer is the perfect time to start!
In order to make the best decisions possible for your child, it’s important that parents understand exactly how cavities form in the first place. Plaque and bacteria are part of everyone’s saliva. The stronger the plaque acids, the faster a cavity forms. Plaque acids stick to your teeth and actually burn a hole in your tooth enamel. Snacks that are highly acidic or part of the carbohydrate group will hasten this process.
Keep in mind that there are plenty of snacks that may seem healthy but can actually increase their risk of cavity development. Snacks to avoid include:
- Fruit snacks, roll-ups / leather, sticky or chewy candy
- Raisins (which are chewy and high in added sugar)
- Chips, crackers (i.e. Goldfish, and Cheez-Its) which are high in processed carbohydrates that easily stick to teeth
As your child begins waking up later in the morning, they’re more likely to start making their own breakfasts. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure that healthy options are easily available to them. For example, seasonal fruit is a great way to start the day and keep their teeth healthy, unlike sugar-filled cereals. You can also make hard-boiled eggs ahead of time and keep them in the fridge for easy consumption. They’re also a great source of protein!
With the hot summer in full swing, it’s going to be difficult for your child to resist crisp soda, whether it’s dark cola or lemon and lime. Unfortunately, soda is truly a triple-threat when it comes to your child’s oral health. It’s filled with sugar, contains carbonic acid, and can stain teeth due to the syrup.
Additionally, Coke, any soda, or sports drinks averages roughly 36-48 grams of sugar per serving. Four grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon of white table sugar. So in one bottle of soda or sports drink your child will consume 9-12 teaspoons of sugar. Being aware of the ingredients in drinks, as well as other common foods like cereals and snacks will allow you to make sound decisions on what to buy or not to buy.
Soda is truly one of the worst beverages your child can drink, so do your best to keep it out of the house. Instead, offer fruit-infused water, which can be customized to your child’s liking, save you money, and not cause harm to their smile. Of course, plain water is also ideal because it flushes out loose food debris stuck in between teeth and keeps them properly hydrated.
Whether you’re traveling around your neighborhood or outside of the state, it’s always difficult to find healthy snacks and drinks for your family. Vending machines can be convenient on the go, but they never have healthy options to choose from. Instead, keep fresh fruit in a cooler so that you and your children have snacks to reach for when they become inevitably hungry. These could include fresh strawberries, bananas, kiwi or apple slices, and clementines, all of which contain natural sugars that are leagues better than what you’d find from the ice cream man or vending machine.
Other healthy snacks include:
- Berries (which are low in sugar and all-natural)
- Raw veggies (which help scrub food debris off of teeth)
The 3-2-1 rule is relatively simple to remember. Three healthy meals a day, brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, and floss once daily. Make sure that your child brushes after meals as food debris can easily get stuck in between their teeth and promote plaque development. Do not let them fall asleep before they have brushed their teeth as well. Their active summer days are sure to tire them out before they have a chance to practice oral hygiene.
Finally, always make sure that their dental appointments are scheduled every six months. The summer is ideal to have them planned since their schedules are wide open. However, they are also ideal because once it’s time for their biannual visit, it will be around December or January. Since this is when their winter break is typically occurring, you don’t have to scramble just to get their routine cleaning and exam completed.
Do you remember when your child’s last appointment was? Need to schedule today? Give our office a call; we’re more than happy to answer and find a day that works best for your family!