School is over, it’s hot outside, the sun is blazing and it’s time for vacation fun. But believe it or not, all this merriment can put your summer oral health at risk.
Here’s a list of six tips that can help you and your family avoid any dental complications that could interfere with you enjoying the best time of the year.
1. Enforce Pool Safety
For most families, heading to the pool is a great way to spend a summer day. But Dr. E. Edington, past president of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), says that swimming pool accidents are the main reason for dental emergencies at his office. While swimming, children can hit the concrete ledge of the pool, breaking or loosening their front teeth. And running on slippery pool decks or diving into shallow water are serious accidents waiting to happen. So, give your kids a list of rules to follow while at the pool to keep their teeth safe.
If an accident does happen, get to the dentist right away. In the meantime, if a tooth has been knocked loose, gently move it into its original position and use light finger pressure to keep it in place until you get to the dentist. If a tooth has been knocked out of the mouth completely, the AGD says to pick the tooth up by the crown (don’t touch the root). If you can’t put the tooth back in its socket, put it in a container with a lid and keep it moist with milk, saliva or saline solution. To save the tooth, get to the dentist ASAP!
2. Prepare a Dental Emergency Kit
Due to the various summer oral health risks at play, you might want to take on the classic scout motto, “Be Prepared.” You can pack a dental emergency kit—or two—with the following items to keep in the car and/or your beach bag:
- Card with your dentist’s phone number (both their office and emergency numbers)
- Saline solution
- Small container with a lid
3. Require Sports Safety
If your family is active in sports, don’t let your (mouth)guard down just because it’s summer. Sports injuries usually involve broken or chipped front teeth, fractured roots and cut lips. But by wearing a mouthguard when playing contact sports like football or soccer, you can prevent these accidents.
If you have braces, a mouthguard will help protect you from soft tissue cuts and the braces from being damaged. If you don’t have a mouthguard, talk to your dentist about getting one. If you have one thrown in your gym bag, let your dentist check it out to make sure it is still in good shape and fits properly.
4. Encourage Healthy Summer Snacks
During the summertime, your house might have a lot of kids coming and going throughout the day. And with so much time for snacking, the refrigerator door gets quite a workout. Since tooth decay can be a real risk after a summer of eating too many sugary foods, this is a great time to get the family on track by swapping out unhealthy foods for healthier versions.
Keep the fridge stocked with cheeses, yogurts and fresh fruits and vegetables, such as berries, apples and carrots; these are nutritious foods that the kids can quickly grab on the go. Swap out the usual sodas and sweet juices for a supply of waters and milk (even chocolate milk is a good choice).
5. Monitor Summer Oral Hygiene
Just because the kids aren’t heading off to school every morning doesn’t mean their oral hygiene routine can take a break too. With a hectic summer schedule, you’ll probably need to remind everyone that they still need to brush their teeth after breakfast and before bed, as well as floss daily. Don’t forget to pack new toothbrushes and toothpaste for your vacation and be ready for impromptu day trips by keeping disposable brushes and toothpastes in the car.
6. Schedule Checkups
Summer is a great time to put your dental benefits to good use since it’s easier to schedule checkups during school breaks. If your gang sees the dentist in early summer rather than later, any necessary dental work can be taken care of, making it less likely that a toothache or lost filling will be a problem when the family is away on vacation.
Your family’s summer oral health doesn’t have to suffer just because you’re all having fun. Your effort will pay off when everyone gets a clean bill of health and autumn arrives (and school starts up again).