Summer is full of awesome activities, including swimming, days at the lake or the zoo, camping trips, vacations, and long lazy days of reading. Given the nice weather and busy schedule of activities in the summer, it’s pretty easy for you or your kids to let dental habits slip.
No matter what your summer plans are, brush up on these dental care tips to make sure every member of the family ends the summer with healthy, beautiful teeth.
Adapt to Loss of Routine
The first and most basic threat to your dental health, your children’s especially, is the loss of routine. When kids are in school, it’s easy to remember to brush right before bed and right after breakfast because these things happen at the same time every day.
During the summer, routine can sometimes go out the window, and brushing may get skipped with late night barbecues and visits to Grandma’s and late wake-ups. Try to adapt to routine loss by planning a new summer routine so kids still at least wake up at the same time.
To remind yourself to brush your teeth, keep an alarm on your phone that goes off mid-morning and in the evening. This alarm could also help you remember to ask your kids whether they’ve brushed their teeth. Keep new extra brushes in your car just in case you forget brushes for a camping trip or a visit to family.
On hot days at the lake, park, or zoo, dehydration is a common side effect. You might shrug off mild dehydration, especially if the kids have gotten enough to eat. You can always catch up on fluids later, right?
However, dry mouth does have a profound effect on teeth. With decreased fluid levels, you cannot produce the saliva you need to wash away sugary residue left over from food. Bacteria breeds quickly in these conditions, and the mouth becomes increasingly acidic, accelerating decay. Provide plenty of water on days when you’re out and about, and don’t forget to pack plenty of water bottles for road trips.
Skip the Ice
In the ever-challenging quest to stay cool, many people skip the water and go directly for the ice. Sucking on ice is fine for your teeth, but chomping on ice is not. Chewing ice can lead to cracked teeth or compromise fillings and crowns.
Chew on chilled carrots or even frozen fruit for refreshment if you need the crunch. The natural sugars in fruit keep it semi-soft, and frozen fruit is less dangerous than solid ice. Don’t forget to swish with water or brush after enjoying a frozen fruit snack.
If you can’t break the habit of chewing on ice, you should check with your doctor. Sometimes a craving for ice can mean you have low iron levels.
Be Careful During Sports
One of the most common reasons parents need to bring their kids in for emergency dental work during the summer is swimming injuries. Swimming and other summer activities like jumping on trampolines, riding bikes, tree-climbing, or even Frisbee can cause dental accidents.
Review tooth-safe practices with your children, including no roughhousing on trampolines or running on the pool deck. When your family is at the water park, explain to your children that ignoring rules for slides and running up slick stairs can result in tooth injury or even tooth loss.
If your child participates in sports during the summer, talk to your dentist about whether they will need a mouth guard. Summer soccer leagues and baseball might require extra protection.
Choose Tooth-Friendly Drinks
With summer comes the upswing of cold beverages, especially chilled sodas and lemonade. These are refreshing every once and a while, but the acidity and sugar content of these drinks is very harmful to your teeth. Try to get used to drinking chilled water instead of sugary drinks. For kids, encourage milk and limit fruit juice.
If you have an active teenager or use the summer to run races or bike long distances, remember that energy drinks and sports drinks are just as damaging as juice and soda. Try to rinse your mouth out after using sports drinks or opt for sugar-free, electrolyte-rich beverages like coconut water.
Plan for Vacations
Finally, vacations throw a wrench into summer dental care. Most parents wait until August to go to the dentist with their kids to make sure their teeth are healthy for the new school year. But it’s actually best to have dental appointments and cleanings before the whirlwind of summer vacationing, especially if you are planning to leave the country.
A toothache, cavity, or bad filling can make your vacation terrible. Rule out the possibility of needing dental work in the middle of a family reunion or a trip to Disneyland by getting all needed dental work done before you leave.
For more information about caring for your teeth this summer, contact us at Apollo Dental Center.