Tips to Keeping Your Child’s Smile Healthy All Summer

Summer break is quickly approaching! While all kids are eagerly awaiting the long summer days outdoors and having fun with friends, it can also be a time of year where kids can tend to ease off good dental habits. It’s easy for kids to forget to brush and floss when they’re so busy just being kids. So it’s time to start Summer 2023 off on a healthier note! And if you haven’t nailed down a daily dental routine with your child, there is no better time to start. Here are five tips that will help your child keep their teeth clean and healthy this summer.



1) Schedule Regular Dental Check-ups

Let’s use those empty summer days to schedule any dental appointments that you missed during the school year. Regular cleanings and check-ups help maintain good oral health by removing plaque and tartar that can lead to cavities. And, especially with children, check-ups allow us dentists to identify any potential issues early on, which makes them easier to treat. If you’re wanting help teaching your child the best way to brush or floss, dental checkups are a great way to get some “training” in. We can show kids the best way to take care of their teeth in a fun way so they’re more likely to keep up good habits. 



2) Make brushing and flossing a priority.

A toothbrush is a child’s best friend when it comes to oral health—it’s their first line of defense against cavities! Brushing regularly with a soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day can do wonders for a child’s dental hygiene by removing food particles, bacteria, and plaque from the surface of their teeth.


  • Choose toothbrushes that have soft bristles. That goes for your teenager as well as your kindergartener.  Soft bristles clean away particles without hurting gums. Kids can tend to apply too much pressure sometimes to their teeth and gum line, and if using a harder bristle brush, they can inflame the gum lines.


  • Replace toothbrushes every 3 months! Yes, 3 months! Bristles can start to bend and warp over time and using a brush matted down from use won’t do much good. Throw out brushes when they start looking a little worn. 

  • Opt for a colorful, fluoride toothpaste. There are more varieties than you can count, and we recommend any toothpaste that your child likes! Why? Because it will increase their desire to use it! We highly recommend including fluoride to aid in protecting the enamel against cavities, but beyond that, let your child go wild choosing glittered pink bubblegum, or cotton candy blue – any flavor or brand will do! A pea-sized amount of toothpaste is all you need to clean a child’s teeth well. 


  • Find a brush your kid(s) can get behind. Any soft brush will do the trick. So let your children pick out a brush that speaks to them! Electric brushes can help loosen stuck-on food and plaque better than traditional brushes, especially when children are brushing themselves. We recommend looking to see if there is an electric option your child would like. Oral B has expanded their popular line of electric brushes to now include Disney themed brushes. Kids can choose which character they would like to feature on the base of their brush. Choose from Disney princesses or Star Wars The Mandalorian. Their line of full-size electric brushes also go beyond your basic white, allowing your teens to now choose black, blue, or pink.


  • Aim for 2 minutes. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush, instruct your child to gently brush their teeth in a circular motion for two minutes. Two minutes can go fast when the child is confident in what they are doing or simply having fun. Set a timer and don’t give up! Eventually, they will begin to understand the importance of good dental cleanings. Most songs last longer than 2 minutes, so our best recommendation is to pull up your child’s favorite tune and let them enjoy the music while they scrub, melting the time away.


  • Make sure every spot is cleaned! To ensure that all surfaces of the teeth are clean, have your child brush their teeth in sections, such as the front teeth, back teeth, and chewing surfaces. Remind them to brush their tongue as well. 


Flossing is just as critical as brushing and removes remaining particles after brushing. It’s also a component that is commonly skipped by adults. Did you know that brushing can only get rid of less than half of the plague that is on your teeth? That’s why you need flossing! 


Flossing helps remove all the hard to reach plaque, bacteria, and left over food particles from your gum lines and between your teeth. We see many kids with cavities between teeth from not flossing regularly while also consuming sugary drinks and foods that break down into higher concentrations of bacteria. Instilling a strong habit of flossing daily is one of the most important recommendations we make to help keep your child’s teeth healthy. So how do we get a non-flosser to want to floss? 


  • Whip out a cute floss pick vs traditional floss strings. Strings can be hard for younger kids to handle, causing more chaos than cleaning. Switch them out for flossing picks instead! These picks are easier to hold and give children the ability to easily access the nooks and crannies of their mouths with ease. What’s more, dental picks are gentle on sensitive gums and edges of children’s teeth. Dentek is widely available in supermarkets and drug stores and comes in hot colors like neon yellow or neon pink. Plackers is a brand with a fun grip that makes holding floss for tiny hands super easy.


  • Reward when fighting a battle of the wits. Maintaining a sticker chart where the child earns a small reward once the chart is complete is a fantastic way to build a habit and make brushing & flossing fun. We recommend picking a chart that has more than 21-28 spots so that when the reward is finished, the habit is also likely already formed so there’s hopefully no going backwards!


You can also add mouthwash to your child’s routine and it’s helpful if you feel your child isn’t cleaning as best as they could. But overall, it’s not a top necessity in maintaining a healthy smile – putting the effort into brushing and flossing is all the child really needs to do.


3) Switch out the sweet snacks and drinks!

Did you know that sugar breaks down into bacteria quicker in your mouth than healthier foods like vegetables? Processed foods also contain higher amounts of sugar, so if your child’s diet typically consists of processed meals with sodas and candy, they are BIG candidates for cavities. Switching out the sugar is perhaps one of the best things you can do for not only your child’s overall health & well-being, but also their smile


We know sugar can be addictive, so it’s a lifestyle change for your child, just as it would be for you if you were to try to cut a habit suddenly. So we recommend phasing down your child’s sugar intake, switching out unhealthy meals and snacks with better alternatives. Try choosing fruits over junk food, water over fruit juice, and have your children start to nix the nasty soda habit. Healthy snacks provide your child with essential vitamins and minerals they need to keep their teeth in top condition.


The acidity with sugar is never a good combo for your teeth. If your child is a heavy sugar consumer, while building a healthy habit, make sure to reward good choices. Positive reinforcement goes a long way with younger children! 


And just like eating processed and sugary foods, drinking liquids that are sugary are also just as bad for your teeth. We can’t scream it from the rooftops enough – this summer, skip the juices and sports drinks! Your kid’s teeth (and dentist) will thank you!



4) Wear Mouthguards When Playing Sports


Games and practices are still in high gear come summer, and with any sport, kids have the opportunity to really do some damage to their teeth. Children especially don’t take enough care sometimes to protect their mouth properly when playing any type of sport, especially contact sports such as football, basketball, and hockey. Remind your child that not properly protecting their teeth can put them at risk of injury. That’s why it is important to make sure your child wears a mouthguard whenever they engage in contact sports – even if just playing in the backyard! 


Mouthguards provide protection for your child’s teeth by creating a cushion between their teeth and the impact of a hard object or surface. This cushion helps to reduce the risk of chipped, cracked, or broken teeth, as well as cuts and bruises inside the mouth.


Mouthguards aren’t just for the field either. If your child grinds their teeth while sleeping, then mouthguards are a great way to prevent dental damage. Consider investing in a custom-fitted mouthguard. Unlike store-bought mouthguards, these are designed to fit perfectly to your child’s mouth and provide more protection. Your dentist can take an impression of your child’s teeth and create a personalized mouthguard that is tailored to their needs. I highly recommend having a custom mouthguard created if your child is engaging in sports on a frequent basis or tend to grind their teeth at night. The investment will help minimize the potential for larger dental procedures down the road! 


5) Take the opportunity to find a great dental fit.

We know that regular visits are important, but how do we get our kids to be excited about going to the dentist? If your child dreads the dentist, it may be a great time to try other pediatric dentists in your area to find one that connects well with your child.  


Our doctors and staff at Holly Tree Pediatric Dentistry work hard to have a nurturing and fun environment for kids. Your dentist should give the child a calming feeling about their cleanings. While you may have a child that never gets truly excited about going to the dentist, having a fun and loving dentist may at least help make attending routine cleanings easier for the child. That’s why it’s important to find a pediatric dentist that jives well with your child. If the child likes their dentist, they’ll love going for checkups! 



Summer is a great time for kids to get outdoors, explore and have fun. However, it’s important to remember that oral health should still be a priority during these months. Whatever improvements you are trying to make to your child’s dental routine, patience, love and perseverance are key to success. With these five tips, you can help keep your child’s teeth in top condition all summer long!