Summer is the busy season for vacations. While families are making plans and traveling, it can be a time when oral hygiene routines can easily be disrupted. I’ve put together some tips to make sure you and your children stay on track while you enjoy the warmer months.

Baby, it’s Hot Outside 

One of the best ways to stay cool during the summer is to stay hydrated. Your family may head to the beach, a county fair or a sporting event. It’s common for families to enjoy the refreshment stands at these venues, but beware of the sugary drinks on the menus like lemonade and soda. Remember, the bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar. That mixture causes the plaque on your teeth to grow even faster. You might want to steer clear of sports drinks as well. Some popular brands like Powerade, Gatorade and Vitamin Water can have as many as 20-32 grams of sugar. It’s fine to let your children indulge in sugary drinks once in a while, but try offering water to beat the heat, or offer milk with meals.

Ice can be your best friend on a scorching summer day, but it can be your worst enemy if you chew it. Chewing on hard substances such as ice can damage enamel and worse, could lead to a broken tooth. It’s best to let ice do its job which is to cool your beverage, not damage your teeth.

On Your Marks, Get Set, GO!

Summertime is THE time to enjoy the great outdoors. Children and adults will take part in all sorts of recreational activities like rollerblading, flag football or a pick-up basketball game. These activities could lead to mouth injuries if you are not protected. A mouth guard can protect your teeth from opponents’ swinging elbows or the unforgiving hard pavement by serving as a buffer between your upper and lower teeth. It can help you avoid chipped or broken teeth. Whether you’re participating in a contact sport or skating, both adults and children should wear mouth guards. But DON’T chew on your mouth guard hanging outside your mouth like an NBA basketball player!! Actually wear it the way it is supposed to be worn; on your teeth!!

There are different types of mouth guards from custom-made to store bought. The American Dental Association (ADA) states that one third of all dental injuries are sports related. Most mouth guards are made of rubbery soft plastic. If you want to know which mouth guard is best for you or your child, ask your dentist.

Hitting the Road

Many families will travel during their vacations. Experiencing a dental emergency on vacation can be a nightmare and ruin a perfectly fun trip. One way to avoid preventable problems is to schedule one of your regular visits to the dentist prior to your vacation. Try to take care of your family’s dental issues BEFORE you leave. Your dentist can spot and take care of problems that could arise while you are away from home.

Also, whether you’re traveling to another city, state or country, don’t forget your toothbrush! One of the most important things to consider is the proper way to transport it. The best way to keep your toothbrush clean while you are at home is to let it air dry. That’s not as easy to do when you are on the road. Try storing your toothbrush in a travel case. Most of them come with ventilation holes that allow your toothbrush to dry, even when it’s packed away.

Don’t Drink The Water Or Brush With It!

If you are traveling to a location where the water supply could be compromised, it’s best to stay away from it all together, and that includes when brushing your teeth. Brushing your teeth is such a routine that it’s easy to forget about possible contaminated water from a faucet.

If your vacation includes a wilderness adventure, you may not be able to tell how clean water in a creek or river is. In both cases, it’s best to brush your teeth using bottled water. An innocent glass of H2O can spell disaster as bacteria in tap water can vary depending on where in the world you are visiting. Contaminated water can cause a myriad of diseases including cholera, typhoid, and dysentery.

Homeward Bound

The MOST important thing to remember is to have fun while you’re on vacation. If that means you let your brushing or flossing take a back seat, or if you ate too many sugary foods, the best thing to do is to get back on track. The ADA recommends you brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with a soft bristled toothbrush or a powered toothbrush. Last, but not least, don’t forget to floss and continue regular visits to your dentist.

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