Ah summer, the time of year that all kids associate with sweetness – literally.
Think back to your childhood and what do you associate with summer? Yes, there’s no school and camps and trips to the pool and vacations looming large, BUT there’s a good chance that some type of ice cream, candy, cookies, cake, cobbler, sodas, sports drinks, juices and the like feature prominently, as kids tend to get spoiled during the summer months. They also tend to hang around the house and raid the fridge and pantry whenever they get the chance.
While that is a wonderful and exciting thought for many children, adults need to remember that there are consequences to be paid for enjoying the sweets of summer to excess – especially when it comes to oral health.
A diet crammed with sugar and sugar substitutes, as well as simple carbohydrates (potato chips, crackers and the like) can wreak havoc on teeth and set your child up for a painful fall, as cavities begin to take hold.
The reason for this is that sugars and simple carbohydrates combine with the germs that are always present in our mouths to produce acid. (The germs actually eat the sugars and produce acid during the process.) And that acid begins to eat away at our teeth, creating holes and crevices – i.e. cavities.
The more sugar and simple carbohydrates (which are really just sugars by another name) you feed these germs, the more acid they produce. Those acids also cause more damage to younger, softer teeth – which is why summer can be a dangerous time for your children’s oral health.
In fact, this summer may be even more problematic, as it has not seen the typical start of summers past. Instead of your children streaming out of school and just now getting used to being around the house all the time, they have – thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic – likely been home for months now. And that could mean prolonged easy access to sweets and snacks.
Also, just because you are serving your kids organic alternatives to snacks and drinks – even juices made solely from fresh fruit – does not mean you are helping your child be healthier. In fact, sugar contents may be even higher in these options.
So, how do you help your child avoid tooth decay this summer?
There are several approaches that may pay big dividends, including:
Eat healthier – Ensure that your child eats a balanced meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Avoid day upon day of sugary cereals and pop-tarts. Sure, it’s fine to splurge, and we’re not suggesting you cut those tasty things out completely, just moderate them. Also, avoid sweets at snack time whenever possible. That also goes for gorging on things like potato chips and snack crackers. Try to limit dessert to once a day – as it’s much safer to eat one big sugary treat than to have several small doses of sugar throughout the day.
Drink healthier – Again, you do not have to cut out ALL sodas, teas, sports drinks and juices (organic or otherwise), just moderate them to maybe one dose a day. To that end, water is your child’s friend. Yes, many kids will be angered at the thought of boring, old water. But water is not only healthy and replenishes the body after sweating through a hot day, it also serves to wash teeth after meals and cleans some of those decay-producing acids off the teeth. Fluoridated water is actually best, as fluoride helps to strengthen teeth and protects them against decay.
Stay on top of brushing – It’s easy to slack on daily routines during the summer, and that can extend to brushing teeth. But, please, don’t let your kids get away with ignoring their toothbrush. Brushing twice a day for two minutes each session is proven to prevent cavities and to slow the progression of any cavities already present.
Floss – Very few adults do this as often as they should, but if you can stay on top of your kids and make this a habit, they will be so far ahead in the oral health game. Kids should floss between their teeth every day with floss or flossers to prevent germ and acid buildup. And flossing cleans up places the toothbrush cannot hope to touch.
Schedule an appointment with your kids’ dentist – It is imperative that your children see their dentist for twice-yearly exams and cleanings. And if you are concerned about summer fun and what it can do to your children’s teeth, then why not schedule an appointment for late summer or early fall? Doing that will help your child catch any cavities before they get too large and allow your dentist to ward off decay with a professional cleaning.
Led by Drs. Ryan M. Vaughn and Emily P. Simon, Kids Dentistry of North Georgia will be happy to ensure your child’s oral health and send them into the 2020-2021 school year with a clean and happy smile. We specialize in ensuring a wonderful dental experience for all types of children and provide a worry-free trip for each family. And we provide two offices for your convenience, one in Gainesville’s Sherwood Park and one on Spout Springs Road in Flowery Branch.
Contact us and let us schedule your child for a late summer appointment – it will be here before you know it. Call Kids Dentistry of North Georgia today at 678-450-7011.