Teaching children how and why to care for their teeth can be challenging. However, if parents and loved ones make dental care fun and engaging, children are more likely to practice good oral health habits throughout their lives. When kids are on summer break, they may want to lounge around and eat sweet treats during the hotter months of the year. But summer is also an opportunity for parents to get creative with teaching their kids how to best care for their growing smiles.
Here are some tips for creating effective hygiene routines for your child during summer break.
#1 Brush and Floss Like a Boss
Daily brushing and flossing help reduce the risk of cavities and bad breath. Try to make brushing and flossing a fun game. Stand in front of the mirror together and clean your teeth together. You can let your child pick out their own toothbrush, but make sure it has a small head and soft bristles so they can easily move the toothbrush around their mouth.
Your child's toothbrush can be more exciting to use if they sing a little tune, light up, or have your child's favorite movie character, superhero, or princess on it. You may also consider choosing a fun-flavored toothpaste, like bubblegum or strawberry. Ensure that any dental products you and your child use have the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval.
#2 Fluoride Fights Cavities
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using a “smear” of fluoride toothpaste twice daily when your child’s first tooth appears and until they turn three years old. Once your child is three, they can use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Just make sure you help them brush, spit out the toothpaste, and rinse their mouth, so they don’t swallow the toothpaste.
#3 Stay Away from Too Many Sticky, Sweet Treats
Since it’s summer, your child may want to enjoy their favorite sweet treats like ice cream, popsicles, or salty potato chips. But there are healthier alternatives to those summer snacks. Instead of ice cream, perhaps a cup of fruit would be a better option. You can also make fruit ice pops in lieu of super sugary popsicles, and your child can eat carrot sticks, celery, or another crunchy vegetable instead of potato chips.
Proper nutrition helps your child grow into a healthy adult, and it also is better for their oral health. Cavities can form from leftover debris from foods high in sugar and carbs, which is why it’s so crucial that children properly brush and floss, even when they eat healthy foods.
#4 Drink Lots of Water
We also recommend encouraging your child to drink water. It’s great for their body and their teeth, and fluoridated water helps fight against cavities. The AAP, the American Dental Association, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all agree that water fluoridation is safe for children. It also helps prevent tooth decay, and studies have even shown that community water fluoridation has reduced tooth decay by 25%.
#5 Regularly Visit a Trusted Children’s Dentist in Sartell, MN
Getting regular dental exams and cleanings are essential for having a healthy smile. We recommend that you bring your child for their first dental appointment when their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday.
Each child is different and has unique dental needs, but we strongly encourage that your child receives regular dental exams and cleanings to reduce the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and oral infections. During exams and cleanings, Dr. Bassas will evaluate your child’s oral health and development, as well as gently and thoroughly remove plaque and bacteria from their teeth and gums.
For more tips on children’s dental care or to schedule your child’s dental exam, please contact our Sartell, MN dental office!