6 ways to keep kids’ teeth healthy all summer long

Posted at 11:58 PM, Jun 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-29 23:58:21-04

RICHMOND, Va. — In an effort to keep children’s smiles healthy and bright all summer long, dentists from the Richmond Kool Smiles office are sharing dental health tips for families.

With the school year officially over in Richmond, local dentists have an important message for parents: Don’t take a break from dental health this summer!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tooth decay affects children in the U.S. more than any other chronic, infectious disease.

“Good dental health is especially important during the summer, when kids tend to eat and drink a lot more sugar,” said Dr. Medrina Gilliam, Area Dental Director for Kool Smiles.

Children are especially prone to cavities and tooth decay, which can lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing and even learning.

To combat tooth decay and keep kids’ teeth healthy all summer long, Kool Smiles dentists in Richmond have the following suggestions for families:

  1. Plan healthy breakfasts. Schedules ease up in the summer with kids getting up later in the morning and tending to their own breakfasts. Make sure there is fresh seasonal fruit available for kids to choose over sugary cereals. Hard boiled eggs make a great snack and good source of protein without the sugars so many breakfast meals contain.
  2. Watch the soda intake. Hot summer months and enticing soda commercials can trigger a campaign by kids to get you to bring home the cola. Try to resist and encourage ice water with a lemon slice or other infused fruit to sweeten the deal. Soda is the worst nightmare for your child’s dental health. Do your best to keep it out of the house.
  3. Going on a trip? Pack healthy snacks and drinks. Whether you are going on a day trip to the pool or a longer vacation, it can be difficult to find healthy food options on the go. Vending machines, the ice cream man and the food hut rarely offer non-greasy foods or low-sugar snacks that are good for the body and teeth. Bring the good stuff with you. Fresh strawberries can satisfy the sweet cravings and while there is natural sugar in those as well – you are better off with a berry over a snow cone.
  4. Brush, brush, brush. Summer nights may also come with later bed times. Active days outside in the sun tire us all out and parents need to make sure their sleepy heads tend to their teeth before drifting off at night. Make sure your kids brush after dinner. If they have a snack before bedtime, the last thing in their mouths should be their tooth brushes. Sugar has a field day overnight in a mouth and it’s important for kids to brush and rinse out the day’s meals and snacks before hitting the pillow.
  5. Practice the 3-2-1 rule. Eat 3 healthy meals, brush 2 times and floss 1 time every day.
  6. Schedule a dental checkup. Take advantage of this time when your child won’t have to miss school to get that necessary dental check-up. During your child’s summer check-up, the dental team will likely perform a cleaning, check for any cavities or other oral health problems, and take the opportunity to reinforce the importance of good brushing and flossing habits. Children should get a dental checkup every six months.