Summer is here, school is out and it’s time to kick back, slow down and enjoy! The Season of Leisure gets everyone out of their usual routine but, it can also disrupt the routine of flossing and brushing, which takes a backseat when your kiddo falls asleep on the sofa at the end of a sun-filled day. It’s easier to put them to bed without brushing than to wake them up and deal with a grouchy, tired child! Here are some tips to help my patients’ parents deal!
Create a Summer Routine
If the loose summer schedule is wreaking havoc with brushing and flossing, change it up. Have the kids brush after dinner. Yes, they will more than likely eat again before bed but you’ve at least gotten in a good cleaning in case they doze off during a late summer evening and you don’t want to wake them up to brush. If they’re awake at bedtime then, yes, definitely have them brush again before hitting the hay.
Time for New
Summer is a great time to buy a new toothbrush. It’s likely you’re due for replacements anyway, since the American Dental Association recommends getting a new toothbrush every 3-4 months. Find something fun for the little ones, such as a toothbrush that plays music, and a brush with a timer for older kids to encourage them.
Getting new toothbrushes also gives you the opportunity to take a few minutes to review good brushing and flossing techniques. As kids grow older, they want more autonomy and this includes brushing and flossing. However, you won’t know if they’re doing it correctly unless you watch them do it.
Speaking of new toothbrushes, summer is also a good time to check out your child’s protective mouth gear, such as mouth guards. Read this blog for tips!
Schedule an Appointment With Us
Since the kids are in school from September through June, most of our Lower Manhattan pediatric dental patients come to see us during winter break and over the summer. This nicely fits with the “every 6-months” dental exam recommendation. Hence, many parents schedule the kids’ dental check-ups in August, just before school starts again. You can avoid the August rush by scheduling your child’s summer appointment in July. Added benefit: You may discover that we have more appointments available in July versus August. Plus, it’s easier to address any concerns when we still have summer’s relatively “empty” days compared with juggling a dental appointment with school, soccer and other activities.
Be Aware of Summer’s Treats
Much of summer is about food that’s tied to events: fairs, reunions, BBQs, pool parties and other summer events. While all of us love the special treats that summer brings—ice-cold sodas, popsicles, cotton candy and the like—these foods bathe your child’s teeth in cavity-forming acids. Of course, you want your children to enjoy these treats, so we suggest that you (A) limit the number of sugary treats in a day (including sugared drinks); (B) be sure they brush or at least rinse their mouths after they consume them; and (C) do a thorough brush & floss before bed. You can make homemade popsicles from pureed fruits, which will cut down on the processed sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Healthy snack option: put out a bowl of fresh berries or apple slices in the afternoons for a healthy snack.
The Bottom Line:
Summer is the best time of the year for kids and it’s often difficult to remember to brush and floss when there are so many other exciting things to do! If you make your child’s oral hygiene a year-round habit you can avoid surprises later while giving them the skills for a life of healthy teeth!