With the school year coming to a close and three months of summer to look forward to, oral health is likely one of the last things on your child’s mind. But between family vacations, outdoor sports and warmer weather, summertime presents plenty of opportunities for your child to develop cavities or damage their teeth if they aren’t practicing smart oral health habits.
With these tips, you can protect your family’s oral health this summer break.
Prepare For Oral Health Needs on Vacation
Your family vacation should be about sightseeing in a new city or relaxing on a beach — not worrying about potential health problems. Plan ahead for your oral health needs, so you don’t have to worry once you reach your destination.
Before you pack, make a checklist to ensure you don’t forget anything. This list should include oral health items such as:
- Toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss. Use a clean traveling toothbrush container, and take your toothbrush out of it when you’re not on the road. Your toothbrush is more conducive to the growth of bacteria when it is kept in a closed container for a long period of time.
- Your child’s teeth can shift, even after just a few weeks of not wearing their retainers. This makes refitting that retainer painful and can disrupt the oral health gains your child’s braces and retainer have helped them make.
- A copy of your dental benefits card. Make sure each of your family members has a copy, in case anyone needs emergency dental work while on your trip. If your child is going to a summer camp or will be away from your family, make sure their camp counselor or supervisor also has a copy of your benefits card. It’s also a good idea to bookmark TruAssure’s Find a Provider page so that you can easily find care near you if it’s needed. TruAssure uses one of the largest provider networks in the U.S., with a directory that’s updated monthly.
- Be prepared in case of a dental emergency. Print a copy of our flyer to learn what to do in the event of a dental emergency. Pack this flyer in your suitcase, so you can have this information handy in case you or a family member knocks out or breaks a tooth or has a toothache or mouth sore.
When relaxing on vacation, it might be easy to forgo the healthy habits you maintain at home, including caring for your oral health. While away, be sure to continue your oral health habits, brushing twice daily and flossing at least once a day. You can also chew sugarless gum, which not only relieves ear pressure on flights, but also increases saliva flow in your mouth, which inhibits tooth decay. If you’re traveling with young kids, read our children’s oral health flyer for more advice.
If you arrive at your destination and realize you’ve left something at home, improvise with what you have. If you forget your toothbrush, don’t skip brushing altogether. Instead, use toothpaste on a clean finger or washcloth.
Remember to Stay Hydrated
In the summertime, your child’s likely to spend more time in the sun. In the midst of their summer fun, they may not drink as much water as they should. Encourage your child to drink plenty of water. Fluoridated water helps fight cavities and strengthen your child’s teeth.
When dehydrated, your child’s mouth won’t produce as much saliva, which can lead to tooth decay. Drinking water frequently can make up for the lack of saliva, and consuming fluoridated water helps make the outer enamel of teeth more resistant to acids that can lead to tooth decay. Proper hydration is important to your child’s overall health.
Always choose water before sugary sports drinks. These beverages can contain significant amounts of sugar and are a leading cause of tooth decay for teens. Many fruit juices are also high in sugar, and can be damaging to teeth.
Choose Summer Snacks Wisely
Everyone knows that they should stay away from unhealthy snacks, but it can be especially difficult during the summer. Between cotton candy, popsicles and funnel cakes, your children are prone to eating more foods that are high in sugar during the summer. Consuming too much sugar can lead to tooth decay.
An easy way to cut back on sugar is to replace high-sugar foods, like ice cream and barbecue sauce, with their low-sugar versions. Try doing away with desserts full of added sweeteners altogether by replacing them with fruit-centric treats, which are naturally sweet and provide nutrients and fiber at the same time. Grill peaches, make a rhubarb crumble or add low-sugar whipped cream to strawberries.
Keep these tips in mind if your child is involved with a summer sport or activity. When it’s your turn to bring snacks to team practices or games, opt for fresh fruits, like raspberries and blackberries, that are low in acid and sugar. Healthy snacks, like celery sticks, packets of plain nuts or string cheese are other tooth-friendly options.
Schedule a dentist appointment for your child before you go on vacation or before they start their sports practices. Even if your child does consume the occasional sugary snack, drinking plenty of water will flush out sugars and acids and help keep their teeth cavity-free. With proper oral health care like brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist, you can prevent unwanted cavities or tooth damage from ruining a fun summer.
If you’re still looking for the dental insurance plan that’s right for your family, learn more in our e-book, “The TruAssure Buyer’s Guide.”