In the next couple of weeks, schools across the DFW area will be letting kids out for summer break. While children enjoy this break from routine, this could potentially be an issue for their smiles! The extra sugar consumption, and becoming lax in their routines, could allow the risk of cavities to increase. Which is why your Richardson, TX, family dentist wants to offer parents a few tips to help keep their children’s smiles healthy and safe all summer long!
Limiting Sugary Snacks
When kids eat a lot of foods and drinks high in sugar, such as soda, fruit juice, and candy, or items with a lot of starch, such as chips, this leaves behind particles that cling to the teeth. Over time, bacteria will break down these particles, a process that causes a rise in oral acidity and coats the teeth in layers of plaque. When you have plaque buildup, you have weakened and eroded enamel, and irritated and inflamed gum tissues, so your little ones become more susceptible to tooth decay and gingivitis. Plaque, which hardens over time into tartar, could also mean bad breath and stained teeth! Try to encourage them to drink plenty of water, which cleanses the teeth, and healthy items like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and crackers, cheeses and low-fat yogurts, and sugar-free gum. Healthy items not only strengthen teeth, but give them energy and essential vitamins and nutrients too! We can also offer tips for good smile-healthy snacks and beverages for your children to enjoy during their break.
Beware Sports Drinks
During the summer months, especially in Texas, the heat can be brutal. To stay hydrated, many kids turn to sports drinks. It’s understandable, they taste good and do contain lots of electrolytes. But! Being active outdoors can limit saliva production, and these drinks contain sugars and acids. This combination leaves little smiles at a greater risk of developing tooth decay. Encourage them to drink water too, which contains no harmful sugars or acids, and hydrates without putting smiles at risk. Also, energy drinks are popular, but also contain lots of sugar too!
Brush and Floss Without Exception
Our daily habits can impact our oral health too. Children need to continue to maintain a good oral health routine, even if they’re staying up later and waking up later too. Every night before they lay down, they need to brush their teeth for at least two minutes, and with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. You can assist your younger children, and monitor your older ones, possibly even brushing and flossing alongside them. There are fun videos and songs online that can time them so they brush for the full two minutes. This removes stray particles left behind by foods and drinks and also helps strengthen the protective layer of outer enamel. Your little ones also need to floss, which removes the particles trapped between the teeth that a toothbrush cannot reach. They should use tape or a pick, and move the floss up and down each side of every tooth, dipping below the gum line when they do to extract any trapped particles. Enforcing this routine at an early age makes them more likely to continue to as adults, so in the long run they’re less likely to suffer from cavities, infections, or gum disease, and more likely to hold onto a full and healthy smile!
Schedule a Checkup and Cleaning Visit
The summer is a great time to schedule a checkup and cleaning for your child, as they can attend these visits without missing school! The checkup is a chance to take a close look at the smile for possible signs of trouble, and offer treatment before more discomfort develops or a tooth is lost. We will also clean the teeth during this visit, a process that carefully and gently removes all plaque and tartar, reducing the risk of cavities and gingivitis in the process. To help kids with high risk factors for cavities, we could apply a fluoride gel during these visits to help strengthen the outermost layer of enamel, keeping the teeth strong. Many kids have trouble reaching the rear teeth when they brush and floss, so we could apply a dental sealant to the molars. This layer prevents food particles from becoming stuck on or between them, and can stay in place for up to ten years in some cases. Application takes only a few minutes, and they wear away naturally with time, adhering to the most vulnerable portions of the teeth for the longest period. Be sure to give us a call to schedule a visit for your child, so we can make sure they start the new school year with a bright, healthy, and strong smile.
Wear a Mouthguard
During the summer your children are likely to play sports and other activities that could potentially lead to cracked, chipped, or knocked-out teeth. We want them to have fun, but we also want their smiles to be safe! Which is why we recommend stopping by for a custom-made mouthguard. A boil-and-bite option from a sporting goods store is better than nothing, but it doesn’t provide the same level of protection as one custom-made for their smile based on detailed digital impressions and images. Wearing one could lower the risk of damaged teeth, and keep smiles whole and healthy.
If you have any questions about our approach to children’s dentistry, or about keeping little smiles strong throughout the summer months, then contact our team today to learn more. Regardless of the season, we want your littles ones to always have a healthy and bright smile!
Your Richardson, TX, Dentist Provides Pediatric Dentistry
Our team wants to make sure that your kids practice good oral hygiene habits each and every day. For more information on protecting little smiles from tooth decay and gingivitis, then please schedule a consultation by calling the Viva Dental Family Dentistry office nearest you at (214) 337-7800 (Dallas) or (972) 437-6000 (Richardson). Your kids can enjoy their time off without putting their smiles at serious risk!