How to keep tooth decay from ruining your favorite activities

(BPT) - With summer break and (hopefully) a post-pandemic life on the horizon, it’s important that parents make pediatric health a priority this summer.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry is seeing an uptick in “COVID cavities,” and according to the ADA, nearly 40% of dentists reported an increase in cavities and periodontal disease in patients. This is consistent with what many pediatric dentists across the U.S. are seeing: more plaque, more cavities, longer cleaning times as well as missed routine dental appointments.

There are a few simple steps to take during vacations and summer break, to minimize damage to your children’s teeth and gums and ensure the mouth monsters (a.k.a. tooth decay) don’t take away from your favorite activities. Dr. Jeannie Beauchamp, president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, shares her top teeth tips to help your family enjoy vacations and still have a cavity-free smile for family photos.

1) Schedule (or reschedule) those dental appointments over breaks: Like many other medical appointments, pediatric dental check-ups have been pushed off during the pandemic, causing cavity-prone kids. Beauchamp has noticed an increase in cavities, tooth decay and longer cleaning times in patients. Preventive dental appointments not only catch compromised teeth but offer children educational reinforcement on proper dental cleaning and habits. Leaving cavities untreated can result in larger, lasting health issues. Consider scheduling your children’s dental check-ups when kids are off school and have more downtime.

2) Avoid constant snacking: It’s important to limit in-between meal snacking to prevent unwanted wear and tear on teeth that can cause the tooth enamel to weaken and lead to tooth decay or cavities. Beauchamp also warned, many children might have fallen into a pattern of grazing throughout the day and encourages families to set boundaries when snacking.

3) Keep a routine: During hectic times it’s easy for routines to become difficult to follow — make brushing and flossing a priority and ensure kids brush thoroughly for two minutes at least twice a day. Keeping a routine means preventive dental appoints as well, said Beauchamp. With regular pediatric dental appointments, there are fewer dental emergencies and the need to seek care in hospital settings, which can pose other limitations, is less likely.

4) Water, water, water: Drinking water in between meals encourages saliva, washes away bacteria and food debris, and neutralizes plaque acids. This includes drinking fluoridated water, proven to keep teeth strong and reduce cavities.

With a bit of extra attention, your children’s smiles will make it through the season unscathed. For more information about children’s oral health or to find a pediatric dentist in your area, visit mychildrensteeth.org.

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