For kids, summer is all about having fun and eating yummy foods and treats that beat the heat. But even though summer’s more relaxed, it’s important that kids continue practicing great oral care. Healthy teeth and gums are a year-round event!
To help you and your kids keep oral health top-of-mind, we’ve got six practical ways to keep your kids’ teeth healthy and safe this summer.
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1. Protect those pearly whites during sports with a custom fit mouthguard
At Kids Mile High, we’re all about kids playing their hearts out and staying active. If this sounds like your family, no doubt summer includes a few soccer games in the park or street hockey with friends. Or maybe you’ve lined them up for summer sports camps. To keep their teeth safe, we suggest getting your sports-loving kiddos their very own custom fit mouthguards.
A mouthguard for kids, like the Under Armour® one we offer at Kids Mile High, is a definite must-have for sports where there’s a chance of trauma to the face. A custom fit mouthguard definitely protects teeth, making sports a worry-free activity when it comes to your child’s precious smile. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), trauma to the teeth during sports is 60 times more likely without a mouthguard! And we’ve seen that a custom fit mouthguard provides the best fit and protection.
But did you know that a mouthguard not only contributes to keeping your kids’ teeth safe, it also helps protect their entire head and neck from serious injuries. A mouthguard protects your kids during sports by:
- Cushioning teeth against frontal blows
- Redistributing the force of an impact, whether it’s from equipment, another player, or a fall
- Minimizing neck and head injuries like concussions and fractures
- Protecting the head against blows to the jaw that could cause concussions or loss of consciousness
Think of a custom mouthguard like a shock absorber against impacts to the jaws. Instead of your child’s upper and lower teeth clashing together, a custom fit mouthguard provides separation between their teeth. This helps prevent concussive effects to the base of the brain.
How do I Get a Custom Fit Mouthguard for My Child?
Now that you know a little more about the importance of a custom mouthguard, you’re probably thinking, “How can I get my hands on one for my child, ASAP?” It’s easy! Pop on over to Kids Mile High.
Book an appointment with us at our Englewood, Central Park, or Thornton office. We’ll do a quick and painless impression of your kiddo’s mouth. The impression will then get sent to Under Armour who create a custom fit mouthguard that’s a perfect fit for your All-Star.
One last benefit of our Under Armour custom fit, high-quality mouthguard is that it not only protects kids’ teeth, head, and neck, it also eliminates teeth-clenching. That’s really helpful for some athletes since it means they can focus on their game and not on keeping their mouthguard in place.
2. Eating a balanced diet full of summer-season fruits and veggies
A healthy, balanced diet applies 365 days a year, however, we know that sometimes summer eating can end up a little looser than during the school year. At times, your family’s eating schedule may change in the summer — days are longer, you’re eating on-the-go, or grabbing fast food while on a road trip. Maybe your kids graze more or eat dinner a bit later. There’s more picnics, bbqs, snacks, and… the ice cream truck!
But with a different eating routine, you can still offer a healthy, balanced diet to support good oral health care for your kids. One place to start is including kid-friendly, summer-season fruit and veg every day.
Include Summer-Fresh Fruits in Every Meal
It’s easy to “eat the rainbow” with summer’s juicy strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries… all the berries! Keep these easy-to-eat fruits on-hand to add to snacks and meals. Dark-colored berries contain polyphenols, a chemical that helps prevent bad bacteria from sticking to teeth and gums. That’s a total win for healthy teeth against tooth decay! And the vitamin C in berries helps with avoiding soft tissue inflammation.
Now, you might be wondering about that summertime heavy-hitter: watermelon. Made of 92% water, we all know watermelon is a total thirst quencher and that’s great for healthy teeth and gums. All that water helps get saliva going so that bacteria and plaque gets washed away. Watermelon is also chock full of vitamin A, something that makes teeth super happy. Vitamin A is key for healthy gums and building strong tooth enamel. And if that wasn’t enough, did you know that watermelon also acts like a toothbrush? Its texture brushes teeth every time you bite down into a juicy slice!
With all this talk about water, let’s talk about drinks and teeth. Water is a go-to: make sure your kids always have a water bottle of fresh, cool water wherever they happen to be. Milk has calcium and vitamin D for healthy teeth and gums. And homemade lemonade lets you control how much sugar goes into it.
So what drinks aren’t good for teeth? It’s safe to say that even though kids might want a slushie, soda, or sports drink to cool them down, these really are a few of the worst drinks for teeth. High sugar content, acidity, and carbonation erodes tooth enamel over time, making kids’ teeth more susceptible to tooth decay.
We know… it’s not always possible to avoid these sugary drinks, they’re a welcome treat once in a while. Encourage you kids to swish with water afterwards to rinse out some of the sticky sugars.
Prepare Cut-Up Veggies For Grab-n-Go Snacks
If you don’t already do this during the school year, try it out during the summer! Every few days, cut up a bunch of raw veggies and make them available in the fridge for quick access. When you’re heading out to the park, a day trip, or just lounging at home, a ready supply of teeth-friendly veggies encourages your kids (and you!) to eat them since there’s no prep. All you have to do is grab a few handfuls and add them to meals or pack them up with your other snacks.
Make these teeth-friendly veggies easily available every day:
- Baby tomatoes (you can leave these whole for big kids, or halved length-wise for toddlers)
- Snap peas
- Sweet peppers
If you have a garden, a great way to encourage kids to eat veggies is letting them pick straight from the garden. There’s nothing like a baby tomato picked and eaten right off the vine! Or go on a fun adventure to your favorite Denver-area farmer’s market with your kids and let them pick out veggies they like.
Veggies have a lot of the same teeth-friendly vitamins and minerals as fruits, with the added bonus of having less sugar. Hard, crisp, or crunchy veggies are great for helping clean plaque off teeth. Veggies like carrots and celery are also healthy foods for children’s teeth because chewing them stimulates gums and generates mouth-cleansing saliva.
3. Blend Fruits and Veggies into Smoothies or Popsicles
Another way to include teeth-friendly fruits and veggies into your kiddos’ summer diet is blending their favorites into smoothies. Add yogurt, coconut milk, or nut milk for protein. Then take your smoothie blends to the next level and freeze them into popsicles!
We at Kids Mile High can get behind this seven-layer rainbow smoothie that you can easily pour into molds and turn into rainbow popsicles. Of course, feel free to switch up any of the fruits for ones your kids love. Consider making these together with your kids for a fun summer activity.
4. Double-down on your kids’ oral hygiene routine
In summer, kids get a break from the rush to get to school in the morning, or the excitement of after-school activities and homework, so there’s more time to slow down and practice diligent oral hygiene. Ensure your kids brush their teeth twice a day and floss once. Kids who don’t brush their teeth regularly are at risk of plaque build up, tooth decay or cavities, and even gum disease.
Let’s go through oral hygiene for kids step by step. Brushing teeth for kids starts by making sure their toothbrush is in good working order. If it’s looking a little worse for wear, toss it and pick out a new, soft-bristled one. Dr. Paddy, Dr. Roger, and Dr. Meredith agree with the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD): change your toothbrush every three to four months.That’s how long it typically takes for toothbrush bristles to start fraying and lose their effectiveness. As for toothpaste, make sure to use one with fluoride. You should also have dental floss or floss picks at the ready.
Floss first, then brush teeth at a 45 degree angle, brushing all surfaces as well as the tongue, palate, and inside the cheeks. Finish with a swish (and spit!) of alcohol-free mouthwash for kids and your youngster is good to go.
Mouthwash for kids
Now you may be wondering, what is the best mouthwash for kids with braces? Typically any child-safe, alcohol-free mouthwash will do. However, our Kids Mile High orthodontist, Dr. Owens, has a few tips to consider when looking for a mouthwash for braces.
First, find a kid-safe mouthwash that’s ADA-approved like this one that also helps fight white spots. For the best mouthwash for braces, use one that’s gentle and made for teeth that feel sensitive from braces.
5. Visit your pediatric dentist for a check up
Schedule a trip to see us at Kids Mile High. Dr. Paddy, Dr. Roger, and Dr. Meredith are all about preventive dentistry, and regular, twice-a-year check ups are how we can help keep your kids’ teeth healthy.
What happens at a Kids Mile High check up? Well, a lot actually! Your Kids Mile High dentist will examine your child’s teeth, gums, and will remove any tartar or plaque. The doctor’s assistant will then spend time thoroughly cleaning and polishing teeth. Last but not least, we paint on a fluoride treatment to strengthen the teeth.
We also offer dental sealants to make sure teeth are even more resistant to bacteria and harmful acids from foods and drinks. And if you and your kids need a refresher on the best way to brush and floss, we’ve got you covered.
If your Kids Mile High dentist sees your child has no cavities, you’re automatically part of our Cavity-Free Club. And, of course, every kid leaves with a prize at the end of the appointment.
6. Checking in with your orthodontic treatment
We’re pretty unique at Kids Mile High because we have our very own in-house kids orthodontist, Dr. Owens. Our patients can conveniently receive their dental health and orthodontic care all in one place. Dr. Paddy, Dr. Roger, or Dr. Meredith will do a pre-orthodontic screening and will let you know when it is time for orthodontic treatment. Dr. Owens will take it from there and will help you and your child navigate early interceptive treatment, braces, or Invisalign® in a fun and educational way.
You might also like to know that regardless of whether you think your child might need orthodontic treatment or not, we suggest an initial orthodontic assessment by age seven. At that age, a child will typically have a few adult teeth already and their jaw shape is pretty much established. So it’s prime time for Dr. Owens to assess if your child’s teeth development is on track, if early interceptive treatment would be beneficial, or if your child might need orthodontic treatment down the road.
So there you have it! Six ways to keep kids’ teeth safe and healthy this summer. If you haven’t made an appointment to come see us, we invite you to contact us for a summer appointment at any one of our Denver-area offices. The team at Kids Mile High will help you start off the school year right with healthy, strong teeth.