Summer is a great time to focus on your smile. Healthy teeth and gums will allow you to better enjoy the fresh produce you find in the stores and farmer's markets.
What's more, the kids and grandkids are home from school! Summer is perfect for spending time with them, teaching them the importance of having and keeping a healthy mouth.
Here are a few steps that you can do to see that the whole family's smile is shining this summer.
The Kids are Home!
Kids love science. They want to know everything about bugs, dinosaurs and giraffes. How about teaching them how dogs get cavities and what their humans can do to prevent them? Explain how a dog can grow sick if his mouth hurts him so much that he can't eat his food.
Find an online video where the dog is getting his teeth brushed and watch it with your children or grandchildren. While they are laughing, use a mirror to show them their beautiful smile.
Use this lesson as a springboard to talking about the child's own mouth and why maintaining healthy teeth will help him or her grow stronger. Discuss what would happen if the mouth is painful and a person can't chew their food.
A healthy smile is beautiful. Kids are very image conscience. Show them pictures of people with bad teeth. Talk about how bad teeth can make people feel bad about themselves.
Healthy teeth are necessary for your overall health.
Stress that they should never use their teeth to open things, such as packets of food. Doing so can chip a tooth, which will harm their beautiful smile. Getting a tooth fixed will take time away from being with friends and doing the other things they love to do. Talk about the tools they should use to open packets or bottles.
The Great Summer Diet
There are so many wonderful tasting foods during the summer. Fresh salads and ripe fruits are everyone's favorites. Make a point to buy and serve the best that the season has to offer. The vitamins and minerals found in these foods help make strong bones and teeth in summer.
Keep the candy-type sweets to a minimum. Instead, turn toward the healthier sweet foods, such as watermelon and grapes. Celery and apple are well known for helping the teeth stay clean. Keep these handy so it's easier to grab and eat these foods rather than something less healthy.
Avoid foods that have a reputation for damaging teeth, such as popcorn kernels or hard candy.
Also have healthy drinks available. Make fresh squeezed lemonade in the morning, enough for the entire day. Sweeten it with a drop of stevia or other natural sugar. Keep it in the refrigerator near the front where family members will grab it easily. Serve it with straws and the kids will love it and feel refreshed on a hot day of play.
The All Important Toothbrush
Summer is a good time to get a nice fresh toothbrush. Choose one with soft bristles that won't cut and damage the gums. Let each child pick out a new toothbrush to buy and then when he opens the package, give a lesson on how and why brushing is so important.
Brush your teeth after each meal for at least 2 or 3 minutes. Teach the children to hum a song while they brush and to keep brushing until the song is over.
If you want to switch to an electric toothbrush, summer is a good time to do that. Again, give each child a personal lesson on how to use the electric toothbrush. A few days later, see if the child is using it correctly.
Purchase a toothpaste that doesn't have preservatives, artificial sweeteners or artificial colors. The ingredients will be on the box or the tube. It doesn't make sense to brush to get unwanted substances off your teeth with a toothpaste that has unwanted substances in it.
Brushing doesn't remove all the particles and plaque between the teeth. You must use floss to get at those. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on our teeth. It contains bacteria and is the chief cause of gum disease.
Learning to floss thoroughly takes practice. Give each child their own container of floss and encourage them to use it every day. Again, find a video that explains how to floss correctly. Find drawings of plaque between teeth and how floss removes it.
Both children and adults are more likely to floss if they understand the value of it.
After brushing and flossing, germs are stirred up in the mouth. A nice, mild and refreshing mouthwash will wash them away.
Kids love to create things. Have another science lesson and create a homemade mouthwash. Start with a clean glass of water. Add a drop of tee tree oil or peppermint oil and swish the solution around your mouth.
Have the children place the drops into the water so they know what's in it. Talk about the health properties of tee tree and peppermint. They will more likely use the mouthwash if they know what's in it and understand how it helps them.
Visit the Dentist
There are two basic types of visits to the dentist - one for cleaning and one for repairs. Summer is a good time to get a cleaning. Every member of the family should have their teeth cleaned at least once a year. If someone is prone to tooth decay or other mouth problems, two cleanings a year are needed.
If a cavity or other mouth problem is discovered during the cleaning, schedule a repair appointment as soon as possible. Most likely all dental work can be completed before school starts in the fall.
If you are going on a summer vacation, schedule your checkups in the spring. A vacation can be ruined if someone has a tooth ache and has to go to a dentist they are not used to.
So here's the routine for great teeth in summer:
- Eat lots of fresh produce
- Stay away from sugary snacks and drinks
- Replace your toothbrush with a soft bristle bush
- Purchase a toothpaste with no artificial sweeteners
- Create and use a refreshing mouthwash
- Brush after every meal
- Floss every day
- Swish out the germ with your homemade mouthwash for a healthy mouth
- Get your teeth cleaned and repaired at the dentist's office once or twice a year