Don’t Take a Spring Break from Your Teeth

Child's Shovel and Pail at the Beach

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Spring Break – the kids are off of school and ready for fun! Whether that fun is heading to camp for a week or simply not going to school, kids have a tendency to forget one crucial thing: dental health. There are many things to keep in mind to help your kids maintain quality dental health, including:

1. Things to Remember

You can never have too many good habits when it comes to dental health. Spring Break is a great way to reestablish any routines that your family hasn’t kept up with. Make a list for your kids to remember to:

      • Brush and floss twice a day. This is the best way to prevent severe dental problems from arising. Staying on top of dental hygiene will not only make your teeth feel and look great, but it will save you money from having to fix any major dental problems.
      • Drink water. Drinking water after meals or throughout the day will reduce the buildup of plaque on your teeth. Rinsing with water after meals will also prevent the staining of teeth.
      • Drink sugarless drinks or use natural sweeteners. Xylitol is a natural sugar substitute that is sweet, yet it also reduces the risk of tooth decay and cavities. Here are some other specifics about xylitol, talked about in a past blog post.
    • Visit your dentist (before the break). To start off spring break, take them to the dentist for a quick cleaning. Not only will this remind your kids to take care of their teeth over the break, but it will also bring to light any bigger concerns that need to be taken care of immediately. If there is another procedure to be done, go ahead and take care of it as soon as possible. Better to fix the problem during the break than to wait until life gets busy again.

2. Things to Avoid

It’s easy to get into the “vacation mindset” over Spring Break. Dental health? That’s at the bottom of the “fun” list. For parents, one of the biggest reasons to keep dental health a high priority is money. In order to save you that valuable money, there are things both you and your children should avoid for the greater good of their oral health:

      • Sugary drinks. Drinks with high sugar content such as soda, coffee or tea can erode the enamel that keeps your teeth strong. If the drink is dark as well as sugary, it can stain your teeth, leading to less-than-pleasant first impressions over the break.
      • Chewing ice or eating hard candy. Too much chewing or sucking can put stress on your teeth – almost as much as grinding your teeth does. This can lead to cracked, chipped or sensitive teeth.
    • Over-brushing. While parents might appreciate the enthusiasm, your dentist does not. Too much brushing can erode tooth enamel and weakens your teeth.

When kids take a “break” from their dental health, bigger problems can arise, such as:

      • Gum Disease
      • Cavities
      • Root Canals
      • Tooth Sensitivity
      • Crowns and Caps
    • Fillings

3. Packing for Spring Break

Photo by abbamouse / CC BY-SA

If your kid is going on a trip over Spring Break, make sure they have all their regular dental health essentials (toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, etc.), as well as things that will not damage their teeth:

      • Healthy Snacks. Foods that contain natural sugars and are crisp (such as apples) will act as a cleanser for the teeth, and not an enemy.
      • Bring Colgate Wisps. Keep in mind that these little guys do not replace regular toothbrushes, but they are great for road trips or when you cannot get to your toothbrush right away.
    • Travel-size mouthwash. Mouthwash is a great way to clean your mouth of any bacteria and keep your teeth looking healthy.

4. In Case of Emergencies

Crazy things can happen on vacation. It’s good to know what to do in case of any dental emergency.

      • First, rinse your mouth with warm water then floss to make sure you don’t have a piece of food stuck in your teeth that is causing irritation. If the ache is still present after several days, it is probably best to see a dentist.
      • Broken/Chipped Tooth. Once you’ve rinsed your mouth with warm water, put pressure on the area with something cold to keep swelling down. It is good to call a dentist as soon as you notice the chip to get further instructions.
    • Cracked Tooth. Use an ice cube or something cold to put pressure on the area to decrease swelling. Again, it is best to see a dentist or go to an emergency room as soon as possible.

Whatever your Spring Break holds – for either you or your child – remember to keep up with your dental care! It will benefit you in the long run!

What are ways you maintain good oral health over seasonal breaks?

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