Our Top 6 Tips for Healthy Smiles This Summer Break

Can you believe we’re already on summer break in Orange County, FL? Here are our top 6 ways to make sure your kids’ teeth don’t experience summer slide!

That’s right, school’s out for summer in 2023, and that means more time at home for the kids. Whether you have young adults coming home from college, high schoolers looking forward to sleeping in all summer, or little ones waking you up at the crack of dawn for some fun in the sun, summer vacation is something most kids look forward to all year.

Unfortunately, that can also mean some of the great habits you’ve built during the school year may start to fall to the side. But with a little prep you can keep your children’s smiles as healthy as possible all summer long.

1. Summer Break Means More Snacking – Plan Accordingly!

Hand in glove with the disruption to our regular schedule, summer break means mealtime is anytime. For most kids—especially notoriously hungry teens—summer vacation is an invitation to snack all day. Unfortunately, go-to snacks tend to be of the quick and starchy variety.

Starchy snacking and sipping on sweet beverages throughout the day can significantly increase cavity risks and plaque buildup. Wherever possible, try to make more tooth-friendly options as easily accessible as possible. Building a grab bag of snacks like apples, almonds, and other quick nutrition can make better choices convenient, making kids more likely to pick them up.

2. Keep Up a Good Brushing Routine This Summer Break, Even If Your Kids Sleep Until Noon.

We all know what the routine is supposed to be, right? Brush in the morning, brush at night before bed, and get some floss in there somewhere along the way. During the school year, with our regular schedule of rushing out the door to get everyone to school on time, this can be enough of a challenge, but the predictability can at least help a little. Kids know (in theory) that morning brushing is part of what’s supposed to happen before school.

But during summer break, all that may fly out the window. One kid wants to play early morning video games, the other wants to sleep in until lunch time, and before long we realize no one in the house has brushed their teeth in three days. And that’s not even taking summer camp into account!

Let’s be realistic: your children’s dental home care routine might slack a little over summer break, and that’s okay. Try to work in twice daily brushing whenever you can. Using regular signposts of the day that aren’t clock-dependent may help. For example, brush when you wake up, or after your first meal, whether that’s breakfast or lunch or even dinner. Well-placed reminders such as phone alerts also go a long way to keep up good habits during summer break!

3. Stay Hydrated but Skip the Sports Drinks (unless you really need them).

The Sunshine State lives up to its name with a vengeance during the summer months. Staying hydrated is especially important during summer vacation in Florida.

Water should ideally be the go-to beverage of choice to stay hydrated in most cases. Sports drinks and other sweetened beverages are highly acidic and can do significant damage to your teeth with prolonged exposure like sipping on them throughout the day.

However, hydration is more complicated than just drinking water! If you’re outside for a long time or sweating heavily, you have to replenish those electrolytes, too. That’s where sports drinks like Gatorade really come in handy.

If your kids need sports drinks during the summer, they should absolutely get them. To protect your teeth from damage from sports drinks, try to consume them in a sitting and avoid taking little sips throughout the day, and rinse with water afterward if possible. That will limit the amount of time your teeth are exposed to acid from sports drinks while giving you the full benefit of those important electrolytes.

4. Wear Sunscreen This Summer Break, and Don’t Forget Your Lips!

Sunscreen is super important during those long summer days. However, many of us apply to our arms, legs, body, and face, but forget one important area: our lips!

The lips are especially vulnerable to developing sun damage. There are a number of conditions that can result from sun damage on the lips, such as actinic cheilitis, which causes rough, scaly, dark patches on the lips. Sunburn on the lips can also create painful chapping, peeling, and cracking. Over time, some sun damage on the lips can even turn into precancerous conditions.

We highly recommend adding a waterproof lip balm with SPF to your beach bag and applying it any time your family plans to be outdoors for a good amount of time this summer!

5. Enjoy Pool Time on Summer Vacation but Skip the Chlorine Stains.

One great thing about summer vacation in Florida is all the extra pool time! But did you know chlorine in swimming pools can stain your teeth?

Toward the end of summer break in Central Florida, we tend to see a handful of kids with mysterious brown or even grayish stains on their teeth. Frequently, we can trace it back to a summer spent in the pool. The good news is, we can usually polish the stains away with a routine dental cleaning.

If the stain becomes chronic and your child is worried about going back to school with stained or dark teeth, keep in mind that tooth whitening is safe for kids as young as 14 years old. In general, though, pool stain over the summer can usually be avoided with great brushing habits and rinsing well with plain water after swimming.

6. Try to Get the Family Scheduled for Back-to-School Cleanings ASAP!

While we don’t want to cut the joy of summer short by any means, it might be a good time to start thinking about back-to-school dental cleanings for kids now. Especially at Lake Baldwin Dental, tooth cleaning appointments in Baldwin Park, FL tend to fill up fast.

If possible, getting your kids in for a dental cleaning before the start of a new school year sets them up for success with a shiny smile and clean bill of dental health. But if you can’t squeeze in a cleaning before the end of summer break, it’s still a good idea to get an appointment on the books for an early-morning or after-school appointment in the fall. Winter break in December is also a great time to see the dentist!

Keep smiling and have a great summer break, Orlando!