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How to Keep Kids Teeth Clean on Vacation

Keep kids teeth clean on vacationVacations are fun and exciting so it’s easy to forget about keeping your kids’ teeth clean on vacation or extended weekends. When we break from our regular schedules, routines and habits can fall apart and it is helpful to keep some ideas in mind to keep your child on track with their brushing, flossing and diet. Let’s take a look below at some relevant issues regarding maintaining good kids’ oral health practices when your regular daily schedule and routine are interrupted.

Diet and vacation

One of the first things to get neglected when you are on vacation, for kids and adults alike, is a healthy diet. When we visit family for the holidays, or another city or country, we are usually in the hands of someone else who is cooking – be it a restaurant, a hotel, or a relative. Long travel times can also mean fast food and snacking become more common.

Try to keep some simple practices in mind when monitoring your child’s diet while on vacation. There is nothing wrong with indulging or becoming more relaxed in terms of what your child eats, but be sure to avoid sugars before bed as they can stay on the teeth overnight and produce acid that leads to tooth decay.

Additionally, try to encourage your child to drink water to stay hydrated and not soda or juice.  This is an important habit for everyday life and it can set you back in your efforts if your child starts to drink sugary liquids every day on vacation as they may start to crave them more once you return home from the break.

Finally, you do not need to cut out dessert or snacks on vacation. Your pediatric dentist is never going to advocate against eating sweets on vacation, however they will always remind you to maintain or even increase your kids tooth brushing and flossing while on vacation.

Try to build a healthy relationship between your child and snack foods. Parents should not feel guilty just because their child is snacking. The key principle is moderation and also good dental habits to ensure that your child’s diet doesn’t negatively impact their oral health.

Can you brush your teeth too many times?

Pediatric dentists recommend that kids brush their teeth at least twice a day. However, it is not a bad idea to switch to three times a day on vacation if you feel your child is overindulging in treats or sweets.  While ‘overbrushing’s is a phenomenon whereby damage can be done to the enamel of the teeth due to too much interaction with the bristles, brushing three times a day will not cause this to occur. Just keep in mind that your child should be using a soft bristled brush and that their technique should not be too forceful.

As a parent, it is your job to monitor your child’s brushing to ensure they are not too aggressive. For young kids, parents should do most of the brushing to ensure thoroughness and also to demonstrate proper technique. Once your child is older, they shouldn’t need a parent’s hand to brush their own teeth. Your pediatric dentist will recommend that you brush your child’s teeth until the age of 8.

As for flossing, this is often one of the habits that gets thrown out while on vacation as many parents don’t want to deal with the hassle of flossing their kids’ teeth on vacation.  However, if you have a good flossing routine with your child already when you are on your regular schedule, it is a good idea to try and keep this up for consistency and also to ensure the flossing habit stays ingrained in your child. As many adults know, flossing is routine based and is one of the oral hygiene areas where most people can usually improve in consistency.

Make an appointment when you get home

If you feel like your child really let their teeth brushing habits go while on vacation, make an appointment with your pediatric dentist once you return home. An oral exam and cleaning are a great way to calm any worries you have about their oral care and also to discuss with your dentist the best habits and techniques to use while on vacation next time.

Additionally, if your child experienced any tooth pain or bleeding while on vacation, it is best to get that checked out once you return home. Often, families that are on vacation may not have access to good dental care and so talk to your regular dentist once you return home about a checkup.

Packing for your kids

Always remember to bring the everyday oral care items you use at home with you on vacation. While leaving your everyday routine by visiting another location can result in many changes to your daily routine, there is no reason not to keep some familiarity so that your child is comfortable and able to continue their existing habits.

This means bringing your usual floss, your child’s favorite toothbrush and toothpaste, and also any apps or toothbrush timers they use at home. Keeping these familiar items with you when you visit another place can be a calming and reassuring thing for your child and will make it easier for them to continue their everyday oral care routine.

If you have forgotten your usual items, don’t fret. You can possibly buy the same ones at a local store or make the ones you do acquire exciting by telling your child that these are their special vacation toothbrush and toothpaste. Anything that makes it fun will improve the odds of your child’s willingness to keep brushing and flossing while on vacation and out of their normal comfort zone.

Have fun

Let’s face it: keeping kids’ teeth clean is never the top priority for families on vacation, nor should it be. Vacations are a time to break from the everyday routine, have fun and leave our worries behind. However, try to keep some of the advice above in mind so that you aren’t met with any unwanted cavities or oral health issues once the vacation is over.

Written by: Dr. T Jay Robinson, DMD

As a father of three children, Dr. T Jay understands the importance of compassion and patience when treating kids. With more than a decade of experience, he continues to look forward to seeing each of his young patients – and helping them grow into healthy adults.

Categories: Oral Hygiene | Uncategorized

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