Summer break is here and as such, school work will soon be forgotten. However, far too often, dental health habits fall out-of-mind as well, which is what our hygienist Melissa discussed today.
This interview was conducted by Alexandra Latremouille, a graduate of the St. Clair College Journalism Program and current copywriter for Imaginative Group.
Alex: Do you find that children’s dental health worsens in the summertime?
Melissa: Everybody’s routine is thrown off when kids go on summer break. They get up later, might not have breakfast right away, and are frequently going on day trips with friends and family. So, everyone’s routine is thrown off, which includes eating and brushing. What’s consumed during this period is probably less healthy than most other times of year, definitely causing a decline in most children’s dental health.
Alex: What can parents do to help ensure their children’s routines don’t change too much?
Melissa: Instill a sense of consistency. This means making sure your kids still brush their teeth after breakfast, lunch, and dinner since everything you eat throughout the day stays on your teeth. So, if you don’t brush your teeth at night all that bacteria is going to sit there, which is a breeding ground for cavities. This is why nighttime is the most important time of the day to brush.
Alex: Do you find that cold summer treats, like popsicles and ice cream, are a major problem if frequently consumed?
Melissa: Of course. It’s easy to give kids something cold like a popsicle or Gatorade, which are loaded with sugar. Kids are also tend to snack on a wide range of unhealthy foods of their own accord in the summer. What I would like to point out is that if you’re going to have something sweet, do it in one sitting. Every time you consume something that has sugar in it, it stays on your teeth for a half-hour, which causes an acid attack. So if you sip pop for two hours you’re exposing your teeth to two hours-worth of acid. This means you’re at a much higher risk of getting cavities. This goes for other sugar snacks and drinks as well.
Alex: What about fruit?
Melissa: Fruit is good. I would definitely recommend it over pop or candy. Of course, veggies and nuts are also great. A great thing parents can do when going away is pack pre-made baggies filled with these foods for their children. This means that you as a parent have control over your child’s diet, lessening the odds they’ll snack on bad foods. You can make sure your kids have their toothbrushes and toothpaste packed so they can brush after meals.
Alex: What are some of the benefits of making treats at home?
Melissa: You get to make otherwise processed, unhealthy foods the natural way and with less sugar. For instance, you can make fresh popsicles out of fruit or yogurt. These are great because they’re just as refreshing as the regular ones but are missing a lot of sugar.
Alex: Are younger children more susceptible to decay due to sugar?
Melissa: Absolutely, especially those who still have all their baby teeth because their enamel is thinner, which puts them at a greater risk of cavities. Children who are a bit older and at least have some adult teeth are not as susceptible because these teeth are stronger. However, they can still be at risk.
Alex: How can children protect their teeth while playing sports?
Melissa: By wearing mouth guards from at least the ages of five or six onward. This is because they tend to be growing their adult teeth at this time, which you need for 80-plus years. If these teeth are knocked out you’re looking at crowns and stuff like that to fix the issue. This is why it’s great to get custom-made mouth guards, since they don’t move around as much and are very inexpensive.
Alex: And are crowns fitted that early in life?
Melissa: They typically won’t be at such a young age, since children’s mouths are still in development. So if they do lose an adult tooth prematurely, we’ll give them a “flipper,” or a fake tooth that pops in and out until the child is old enough for an implant or a bridge, which happens at around 18 years of age, at least. We’ll only really give children crowns if their back teeth are suffering from decay and need to be preserved for a while.
Alex: This is all great stuff to know and I appreciate your time.