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Combat Summer Chaos with a Routine

Pediatric Dental Assistant School FruitIf you’re a parent who has been through summer break before, you know how quickly your daily routine gets thrown out the door.

All year your family knew what to expect from day to day: get up, eat breakfast, go to school, come home, do homework, eat dinner, go to bed.

Now with summer upon us, you probably need some help with the full, free days ahead of you and your kids. How do you make sure that you keep your kids (and their teeth) healthy and maintained?

Why is a Routine Important for Kids?

A routine is important for your kids for many reasons. Dr. Laura Markham says “routines give them a sense of security and help them develop self-discipline.”

When your child turns 18 and leaves the house, they need to have the discipline in place to keep themselves healthy and accountable. Start teaching them how to do this by creating a structured environment over the summer.

A Summer Routine

Their summer routine should have the same basic timeline as their daily schedule during school. This will make the transition at the end of the summer much easier for everyone!

One thing that is really easy to fall into during these long days is constant snacking. As a pediatric dentist, I see this as one of the most important aspects of your summer routine. If they are always grabbing a snack or sipping a sugar containing drink, their teeth will suffer!

I recommend that you limit them to 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. And that’s hardly limiting!
The key to this routine is that your kids need to brush their teeth after they eat. At the very least, they need to swish with water after their snacks. Keep in mind, though, that if they eat something crumbly like a cracker, they will need to brush as crackers and other snack foods can get lodged in the grooves of their teeth.

I have heard people say not to brush right after eating because the acid caused by the food weakens the teeth, making them vulnerable to the abrasive brush and toothpaste. Actually, it doesn’t happen that fast unless you’ve eaten something particularly acidic such as a lemon or some coffee.

Sure, if you sit and chat after the meal, then it will start to accumulate. If you truly brush right after you eat, though, you’ll be fine! Plus, you’ll be more likely to remember if you do it while it’s still fresh in your mind.

This goes for you parents, too. If you eat your dinner at 6pm and then don’t brush until right before bed at 11pm, that’s a long time for the food to be available to the bacteria in your mouth. While you’re teaching your children good habits, why not pick some up yourself? Lead by example!

To make mealtime more fun, let your kids pick their snack! You can still take control by giving them your selected options. Empower your children by letting them make a choice between celery and peanut butter, asparagus wrapped in turkey, or apples and cheese. They will love getting to choose!

Make sure to keep meals at the table. Don’t let them get in the habit of eating around the house. This will keep them aware that mealtime has a structured time and place. Plus, you won’t have crumbs all over your house!

If you need ideas for healthy snacks, check out the lists on EatRight.org and HealthFinder.gov.

~ Dr. Rhea Haugseth