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Tips For Healthy Summer Smiles

on July 27, 2017 - 8:31am
Healthy grins. Courtesy photo
 
NMDOH News:
 
New Mexico Department of Health Summer sun brings summer fun. While warm months are perfect for spending time together, summer vacation can also throw off your usual dental routine. Here are ways to prevent summertime tooth decay:  
 
Stay on a routine
 
Whether your kids are staying up to catch fireflies or a fireworks show, resist the temptation to skip brushing before a late bedtime—or let it slide when they sleep in the next morning. “Don’t forget about your smile over the summer,” says ADA pediatric dentist Dr. Mary Hayes. “It’s important for families to consistently brush and floss, which keeps kids on track for healthy back-to-school dental visits.” No matter how eventful the upcoming months become, supervise that they are brushing twice a day for 2 minutes with fluoride toothpaste. Simple things like brushing calendars can help everyone stay on track over the summer. Plus, it’s a chance to spend more time together.
 
Brushing alongside your children for 2 minutes, twice a day for the three months of summer gives you 6 extra hours together, so make the most of them! And don’t forget to clean between those teeth once a day. “Your children should be flossing between any two teeth that touch,” Dr. Hayes says. “However, many kids don’t have motor skills to floss until they are over 10 years old.” If your child needs help, try different types of interdental cleaners or put your hands over theirs to guide them and get the job done at the same time.  
Say no to sugary drinks and snacks
              
As the temperature rises, it’s common for families to sip and snack during sports tournaments, festivals or nearly any community event. “Watch your family’s intake of lemonade, juice and soda,” Dr. Hayes said. “Consider sugary drinks treats to enjoy once in a while, and not often.” Instead, offer water (even better if it has fluoride) to beat the heat, or milk to drink with meals. And, don’t let summertime grazing damage your child’s smile. “Taking a break from snacking is healthy for your teeth,” says Dr. Hayes. “It allows time for saliva to bathe the teeth, wash away leftover food and get stronger.” If you find yourself spending more time at home, snack smarter, and let your children tell you when they’re hungry instead of offering snacks throughout the day. “They’re not afraid to let you know when they want something to eat!” she says.
 
Make your back-to-school dental visit early
                                            
Some schools require back-to-school dental visits for certain grades, and these checkups can be a good way to be sure your child’s teeth stayed healthy. It is a good idea to make your child’s back-to-school appointment early in the summer to avoid the August rush and help insure you get the appointment time that works best for you. “We can help spot and take care of any issues, so your child doesn’t have to miss class once school starts,” Dr. Hayes says. “Visiting the dentist regularly can help your child’s smile stay healthy all year long.”  
 
Dental Care When Planning a Vacation
                                    
Even when you’re dreaming about vacation, there’s no place like home–especially a dental home base. “Prevention isn’t only taking care of your teeth,” Dr. Messina says. “It’s establishing a relationship with a dentist.” If you can, schedule your next regular visit before your trip. “Have a thorough exam so we can spot any problems before they happen,” Dr. Messina says. You’ll have peace of mind, and your dentist will have the most up-to-date information on your teeth, including x-rays.
 
In Case of Emergency
     
Have your dentist’s contact info handy in your cell phone or keep a business card in your wallet. “If you think you need to talk to somebody, you probably do,” Dr. Messina says. In fact, more dental emergencies can be resolved over the phone than you might think (especially if you keep up regular visits). “As a patient, it’s hard to know the difference between something that needs to be treated right away and something that can wait until you get home,” he says. ”That’s what we are here for.”
 
In Case of Emergency Overseas… If you are out of the country and absolutely in need of a dentist, Dr. Messina recommends getting in touch with the local consulate or U.S. embassy. “While talking to the concierge at the hotel is OK, ask the consulate and their employees for a recommendation,” he says. “It’s an independent recommendation and not someone who may be driving business because of a contract or to a relative.”
 
Forget Your Toothbrush?         
 
Sunscreen? Check. Phone charger? Check. Toothbrush? Oops. If you find yourself temporarily without a toothbrush, Dr. Messina says you can rinse vigorously with water to wash away some of that cavity-causing bacteria. Most hotels keep complementary toothbrushes on hand at the front desk. You could also put some toothpaste on a clean washcloth or your clean finger in a pinch. When you finally get to the nearest drugstore, look for a toothbrush with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. If there aren’t any Seal products, buy the softest brush you can find.
 
Proper Toothbrush Transport
 
Letting your toothbrush air dry is how you keep your toothbrush clean at home, but that’s not always possible on vacation. What’s a traveling toothbrush to do? “I’m a big fan of resealable plastic bags. Keeping your toothbrush clean and out of contact with other things is more important that making sure it’s dry on vacation,” Dr. Messina says. “A bag keeps your toothbrush separate from everything else in your luggage. When you get there, pop it open and let your brush air dry.”
 
Pack an ADA-Accepted Pack of Gum                                                 
 
Chewing sugarless gum can help relieve ear pressure during a flight – and help keep cavities at bay on vacay. Research shows that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal can help prevent cavities. That’s because it gets saliva flowing, which helps wash away cavity-causing bacteria. Sugarless gum with the ADA Seal is guaranteed to do the trick.
 
When In Doubt, Brush with Bottled Water                                                  
 
If you are in a country where the water supply is compromised – or you’re on a wilderness adventure but aren’t sure how clean the stream is – always use bottled water to brush. “Don’t use the local water to brush your teeth,” Dr. Messina says. What happens if you accidentally get local water on your toothbrush? “Get a new one if you can,” he says. “If that isn’t possible, rinse your brush well with bottled water to reduce the risk of getting sick.”
 
Get Back on Track After Your Trip
 
If you let brushing and flossing slide – or indulged in too many sweets while away – don’t beat yourself up. “Just get back on your normal routine of brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing when you get home,” Dr. Messina says.

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