Kids' dental health dwindles in summer
SUMMARY: Summer is primetime for kids getting dental caries, but parents can take a few precautionary measures to ensure their mouths stay clean.
Posted: July 1, 2013
For kids and teens, summer is the best time of the year! School is out, making for more opportunities for fun and relaxation. Parents may be a little more relaxed about rules and a day-to-day schedule is no longer rigidly assigned. Unfortunately, this is a recipe for oral health concerns like tooth decay, bad breath and more. According to The Washington Post, dentists warn parents that summertime is the worst for kids needing cavity treatments.
Do you remember the excitement of the last day of school each year? For a couple months, kids can sleep in, stay up late and enjoy many things that they cannot during the school year. Whatever that may mean, kids' schedules are off, which may lead them to forget about the importance of brushing and flossing each morning.
What you can do
Encourage your kids to stay on a schedule. While they won't have classes to attend, sticking to a rhythm will keep them from forgetting to brush in the morning. Make dental health a top priority in your household. Many kids don't understand that keeping a healthy mouth influences the overall wellbeing of the entire body, but you can make this known. Also be sure to set a good example for kids to follow.
This is a great time to plan a bi-annual check-up at the dentist if you haven't been there recently. You can take care of any cavity treatments that are necessary, or prevent any from popping up by giving your kids a fresh slate. Regularly visiting the dentist helps to get rid of dental plaque that builds up over time along the gum line, which can eventually turn into tartar.
During the summertime, kids are always looking for snacks because they aren't on a strict eating regimen like they would be in school. Parents should make sure to always have healthy snacks on hand like fruits, vegetables, whole grain crackers, seeds and nuts. These options can curb the urge to eat small meals throughout the day without your kids reverting to chips and candy.
Speaking of chips and candy, make sure you don't have a lot of these items in your cabinets. Same goes for soda. These unhealthy options are not only bad for the body, but they wreak havoc on the mouth. The loads of sugar can cause bad breath and lead to tooth decay. Sugar gives fuel to bacteria that accumulate in the mouth, and this can be a recipe for disaster if kids aren't keeping up with brushing, flossing and rinsing each day.
What it's important to start now
Proper care of the mouth and teeth is important for a number of reasons, including the risk of other issues in the body. For example, researchers from the University of California San Francisco found that gum disease can be linked to kidney function.
"This is a very new and emerging area, and there have only been a few studies," said Vanessa Grubbs, a nephrologist and assistant professor at the school. "If we at least start to show that treating periodontal disease can slow the progression of kidney disease, the long-term ramifications for dental policy and how we manage patients with chronic kidney disease are huge."
Although the research was only conducted with a small group of people, it shines a light on the overall importance of maintaining a healthy mouth to prevent other complications. If you instill good habits in your kids at a young age, they will be much more likely to remain in top health and avoid complications like bad breath, gum disease, tooth decay and more.