Summer Adventures and Healthy Smiles for All - First Things First
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It’s hard to believe, but another summer in Cochise County is almost upon us. Babies and toddlers may not be as affected by schedule changes as their older, school-age siblings, but for some families, summer vacation is a whirlwind of traveling and adventures. Little ones who are wrapping up their first year of preschool might find it hard to adjust to being home again all day long. However, there are five great tips to keep your children’s dental routine on track all summer long, even when every day might be slightly different.

Tip number one, keep in mind that without a routine to follow, children may be at risk of forming new cavities because they’re not brushing their teeth regularly and tend to consume more sugary snacks and drinks than usual in the summer. So, tip number one is to try to stick to a teeth-brushing schedule. Parents may even go as far as setting a reminder for morning and evening brushing on their phones or smart speakers to remind kids that it’s time to brush. Sticking to this routine all summer long will be extremely beneficial for little ones and ward off plaque that causes cavities and other problems.

Tip number two is to cut out sugary snacks as much as possible. Children under the age of five should stick with mostly water and milk as beverage choices. However, juice, sports drinks and lemonade can be given to kids in moderation. Soda is not recommended at all for a variety of reasons including its high sugar content and acidity, which causes the erosion of tooth enamel. Alternative snacks may include cheese sticks, apples, pears, almonds, cashews, celery in peanut butter, hummus with pita chips, guacamole or salsa and chips, and even beef jerky or sliced pepperoni. All these snacks are nutritional and better for children’s teeth and overall wellbeing.

Tip number three is to make children’s oral health routines fun. One surefire way to encourage kids to brush for two minutes, twice a day, is to find songs that are two-minutes long they can play while brushing. Elvis Presley’s, “All Shook Up,” is one example of a two-minute song that would be perfect for kids to dance to as they brush. Some toothbrushes have automatic music and timers built into them, and others have an hourglass that can be flipped to show little ones how long they should brush.

Tip number four is to focus on flossing. Although it’s been said before, it is worth repeating: Get children in the habit of flossing early. This is a crucial step in keeping kid’s teeth healthy long before their permanent teeth come in. Include time to floss once a day during their teeth-brushing routine. Show little ones how to hold the floss and how to pull it between their teeth. For younger children who have trouble with floss, dental picks are a great alternative to string floss. They even come in fun shapes like dinosaurs and dolphins, or flavors like mint and bubble gum.

And tip number five is to schedule a summertime exam. Just like adults, children as young as age one should have a dental checkup and cleaning at least two times a year. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) advises that children have their first dental exam by their first birthday or the surfacing of their first tooth. Scheduling a checkup during the summertime will also ensure that your little one’s dental health stays on track.

With a little effort and creativity from parents and caregivers this summer, children can maintain the healthy oral hygiene habits they have developed throughout the year. Excellent dental care routines early on will make sure kids enjoy a healthy mouth for the rest of their lives.