6 Ways to Keep Your Kids’ Teeth Happy and Healthy This Summer

snacking child

Hey there, parents: How are you holding up?

Yes, summer only just “officially” began for most of Washoe County, but for local kids, school is already a distant memory.

So what does this have to do with dental care? According to our very own Dr. Perry Francis, summer not only implies a change of routine — it often means completely ignoring important dental habits like brushing and flossing.

“During summer months, established routines often disappear a lot of the time with children — and even with their parents,” he says. “And a lot of the time, hygiene goes by the wayside as well.”

In anticipation of the summer of 2019, Wild About Smiles is offering these important reminders to parents and kids everywhere.

“Just a few simple ideas can make a big difference in helping our kids maintain those beautiful and healthy smiles we want them to have,” Dr. Francis says.

Summer Tip #1: Try to establish a new routine.

“Even in summer months, it’s so important to just remember to brush and floss,” Dr. Francis notes.

One idea to try: positive reinforcement when a goal is accomplished.

“Maybe you can make a calendar, and when they’ve completed their brushing and flossing for two weeks in a row without you having to remind them, they get to go to a movie or choose something fun,” he suggests.

While some children don’t need reminders, this is a simple way to connect something positive with the development of a new habit.

Summer Tip #2: Limit snacking at night to avoid tooth decay, and remind kids about good snacks for their teeth.

“It’s really important to educate your kids about snacking at night,” Dr. Francis says. “This can be just a simple reminder about the fact that they should go to bed with clean teeth, so if they do snack, to brush and floss after.”

He mentions the importance of access to healthy food — so when the kids go to the fridge at night, they see carrots and apples, instead of chocolate chip cookie dough.

“We seem to stay up later during summer months, meaning we get hungrier later — so just making sure you’ve got cucumbers cut up or carrots peeled makes choosing the healthy options so much more convenient.”

Summer Tip #3: Make sure your kids get rest before dental work.

“During the summer months especially, we see a lot of kids who come in exhausted because they’ve been up until 11 or even later the night before,” Dr. Francis says.

This can translate to extreme crankiness and even more anxiety when a child is sitting in the exam chair. And in the worst examples, the dentist isn’t able to complete the work, meaning one appointment becomes two or more.

“If you know your child needs some repair work or an appointment, just get them to bed early enough that they’ll come in rested,” he recommends.

Summer Tip #4: Limit screen time before bed.

“So I have to say that kids who are hooked on electronics, in my experience, tend to have the most significant issues with dental hygiene,” Dr. Francis explains.

The reason: Kids fall asleep while using their devices, meaning they go to bed without brushing or flossing. Another reason: Children are playing video games with one hand — and snacking with the other.

“Snacking and electronic use just seem to go hand-in-hand in a lot of cases,” he says. “So if you limit screen time at night, you see less snacking, which means a greater chance of healthy teeth.”

Summer Tip #5: If you have issues with your teeth, see your dentist quickly.

Summer is the season of chipping — and even knocking out — teeth. Jumping and playing in pools, swinging baseball bats and riding skateboards all come with a potential side effect of accidents.

“If your child knocks out a whole permanent tooth, put it in cup of milk, or if they can handle it, put it back in the child’s mouth – then make your way to us immediately,” Dr. Francis advises. (Why milk, you might be asking? According to this post, “Milk is a good medium for storing knocked-out teeth because cells from the root surface don’t swell up and burst as they do when placed in water. It contains proteins that keep a constant acid-to-alkaline ratio, anti-bacterial substances, as well as sugars to keep cells growing.”)

“The key is to get to the dentist in less than two hours,” Dr. Francis adds. “If we can get it back in the socket in that amount of time, we can often reattach it.”

If a tooth is broken or chipped and the child is experiencing cold sensitivity, call the dentist and make a same-day appointment if possible.

“If it’s just cosmetic and it’s a baby tooth, we most likely won’t recommend fixing it,” he notes. “But if there’s any pain or discomfort associated with the damage, we’ll find a way to help.”

Summer Tip #6: Make dental appointments early in the summer to avoid the back-to-school rush.

“Right now is probably the best part of summer to make your dental check-up appointments, though we’re obviously available all summer long,” Dr. Francis says. “But a lot of our patients wait until after 4thof July, which can get hectic — it’s amazing how soon school starts again, and then you’re going crazy trying to schedule everything quickly.”

To get your dental scheduling out of the way now so you can return to your regularly scheduled summer fun, schedule an appointment today: For the Sparks office, call (775) 331-9477; for Fallon: (775) 423-9453. Or click here to request an appointment online.

Happy summer, everyone: Let’s make it a season of happy and healthy teeth!

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