Summer Smiles

Alaina Hart, MPH, CHES
Senior Health Educator
Dental Health Program Manager

Summer fun is in full swing, but don’t let tooth decay ruin your plans! Even though your days may be spent enjoying the warm weather or hanging out with family and friends, it is important to remember to keep up with your dental hygiene routine – especially for kiddos. Here are a few reminders for parents to help prevent tooth decay for the little ones.

Keep A Routine

Mother, father, and child brush teeth in the mirror.If you spent a lot more time in the house this past year, like many of us have, it may have been an adjustment to help your kids keep up with their dental hygiene routines, especially if they were used to rolling out of bed and turning on the computer. Now with many businesses and activities open again for the summer, it can be easy for children to get off track with regular brushing and flossing, yet again. The extra time on your hands in the summer is actually a great time to work on brushing and flossing skills. If daily toothbrushing is like “pulling teeth” in your house, here are 3 ways from Colgate to make it fun and more sustainable.

    1.  Brush against the clock: Set a two-minute timer and have a brush party. This not only gives children something to focus on, but it also helps them start to understand how long they should be brushing their teeth.
    2. Brush to your favorite song: Most children have a favorite song that makes them smile when it comes on. Pick a two-minute song to play for kids while they brush their teeth. If the song is longer, use the extra time for a rinse break. There are also many children’s characters that sing songs about brushing. Here are several fun songs to add to your toothbrushing playlist. 
    3. Brush during commercial breaks: If your child has a favorite morning or evening show to watch, commercial breaks allow plenty of time for both brushing and flossing. The average commercial break is between two and three minutes. As soon as the commercial starts, children can head to the bathroom to brush and floss and be back to catch the rest of their show.

Snack Smart

Bowl of fruit, seen from above, sitting on table.

The Poe Center loves teaching about healthy snacking, but we know that summertime can make it tempting to load up on lots of frozen sweet treats. Remember, water (especially if it has fluoride) is always a great first choice to stay cool, hydrated, and keep teeth happy and healthy. If you want to add some excitement to your water, different fruits and herbs, like mint and lemon, add lots of flavor without adding sugar. You can even make your own frozen “popsicle” treats with 100% juice and real fruit. Summer is also a great time to enjoy the many fruits and vegetables that are in season and keep children, who usually like to graze all day, satisfied with healthy choices.

Schedule Appointments Early

Human hand writes reminder "Dentist appointment 11:00" in calendar.

Summer is a great time to schedule your children’s dental appointments to help avoid the back-to-school rush in the fall. Dr. Hayes with the American Dental Association says, “We can help spot and take care of any issues, so your child doesn’t have to miss class once school starts.” Regular visits to the dentist during the summer can also help you avoid dental emergencies, especially while on vacation. 

Although brushing and flossing is important all year long, sometimes children need helpful reminders in the summer. Another great way to motivate children to keep up with their dental hygiene routine is to let them pick out a new toothbrush to kick off the summer season. Keeping these simple reminders handy can help make sure your child’s smile stays bright all summer long. Wishing you a happy, healthy rest of your summer!


3 Teeth Brushing Timer Activities for Kids 

3 Tips for Healthy Summer Smiles

Summer Tips

Nutrition Education

Featured Poe Program: Sheriff Tuffy Tooth

Participants: Preschool – 1st grade
Program Length: 30 minutes

Sheriff Tuffy Tooth speaks to kids about the importance of tooth brushing, eating healthy foods, and visiting the dentist. Invite the Sheriff, an animated, talking tooth and his deputy, “Bucky the Horse,” to visit your school or group for a one-of-a-kind experience!

Programs can be presented online and are great for youth and family groups to participate from home. Call (919) 231-4006 for details.

 Featured Activity: Dental Health Videos

How to Floss:

Tooth Brushing Song with a Countdown Timer: