Brushing Up on Dental Hygiene for Kids During Summer

Importance of Dental Hygiene for Kids

Maintaining good dental hygiene for kids is crucial for their overall health and well-being. 

It's essential to start teaching children about proper oral care early on to prevent cavities, gum disease, and other dental issues. Summer, with its change in routines and increased consumption of sugary snacks, presents unique challenges for maintaining oral health.

During the summer months, children often indulge in ice cream, sodas, and other sugary treats, which can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay. Additionally, the relaxed summer schedule can sometimes result in missed brushing and flossing sessions. Trips to the pool, beach, or park may also mean less structured meal times, which can affect oral hygiene routines. 

Understanding these potential pitfalls and being proactive can help ensure that your child's dental health doesn't take a vacation this summer.

Establishing good oral habits early not only helps in preventing dental problems but also sets the foundation for lifelong healthy practices. Regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups can make a significant difference in keeping those pearly whites strong and healthy, even during the busiest and sweetest times of the year.

What is Good Dental Hygiene for Children?

Good dental hygiene for children involves a few key practices that are easy to incorporate into their daily routine. This includes brushing their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily to remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth, and visiting the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings. It's also important to use the right-sized toothbrush and to replace it every three to four months or sooner if the bristles become frayed.

Why is Dental Care Important for Kids?

Dental care is crucial for kids because it sets the foundation for a lifetime of healthy habits. Good oral hygiene prevents cavities, which can cause pain and infections if left untreated. 

It also helps avoid gum disease, which can lead to more serious health issues if it progresses. Additionally, maintaining healthy teeth and gums contributes to overall health, boosting confidence and allowing kids to eat and speak properly. 

Establishing these habits early on ensures that children grow up with strong, healthy teeth and gums, reducing the risk of dental problems in the future.

kid at the dentist


Starting Early: Oral Hygiene for Young Children

When Should Children Start Oral Hygiene?

Introducing dental care should begin even before a child's first tooth appears. 

Gently cleaning a baby's gums with a soft, damp cloth helps remove bacteria and gets them used to the routine. This early start sets a positive precedent for future brushing habits. Once the first tooth comes in, usually around six months, it's time to start brushing with a tiny, soft-bristled toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste. At this stage, brushing should be done twice a day to ensure that the newly erupted teeth are kept clean and free from decay.

As more teeth appear, continue to use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste, gradually increasing the amount to a pea-sized dollop by the time the child is three years old. 

It's essential to supervise and assist with brushing to ensure all teeth are cleaned thoroughly and to teach proper brushing techniques. Additionally, regular dental visits should start by their first birthday. These early visits not only help monitor the development of their teeth but also familiarize the child with the dentist, reducing anxiety in future visits. Establishing these habits early lays the groundwork for a lifetime of good oral health and a beautiful smile.

How Should Children Clean Their Teeth?

For babies and toddlers, start with a soft-bristled toothbrush designed for small mouths. Use a smear of fluoride toothpaste and brush gently in circular motions. As more teeth come in, introduce flossing to remove food particles between teeth. 

For preschoolers and older children, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Teach them to brush all surfaces of their teeth—front, back, and chewing surfaces—for two minutes, twice a day. Flossing should be done once a day, with parents assisting until children can handle it on their own. Making tooth brushing a fun, interactive activity helps establish these habits early on.

Tips for Good Oral Hygiene in Children

Brushing Techniques

Teaching kids effective brushing techniques is crucial for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Children should brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day, using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Encourage them to use small, circular motions to clean all surfaces of their teeth—front, back, and chewing areas. Using a fun timer or a favorite song can help ensure they brush for the full two minutes.

Flossing and Mouthwash

Flossing is an essential part of dental hygiene that helps remove food particles and plaque between teeth where a toothbrush can't reach. 

Children can start flossing when they have two teeth that touch, usually around age two or three, with parents' help. By age eight, most kids can floss on their own.

Mouthwash can be a helpful addition to an oral hygiene routine, especially for older children. 

It helps kill bacteria, freshen breath, and can provide fluoride for extra cavity protection. Ensure the mouthwash is alcohol-free and appropriate for your child's age. Start introducing mouthwash around age six, and supervise to ensure they swish and spit properly. Making flossing and mouthwash use fun, with colorful flossers and kid-friendly mouthwash flavors, can help make these practices part of their daily routine.

Dental Hygiene for School-Age Children

kid giving thumbs up in dentist chair

Maintaining Good Habits

As children grow, it’s essential to reinforce good dental hygiene habits. Encourage school-age kids to brush their teeth twice a day and floss daily. Make dental care a fun and consistent part of their routine, possibly incorporating it into morning and bedtime rituals. 

Reward charts and positive reinforcement can motivate them to stick to these healthy habits.

Dental Hygiene Challenges

School-age children often face challenges such as increased access to sugary snacks and drinks, which can negatively impact their oral health. Educate them about the effects of sugar on their teeth and the importance of choosing healthier options like fruits, vegetables, and water. 

If they do indulge in sweets, ensure they brush their teeth afterward to minimize the risk of cavities. Pack healthy snacks for school and encourage drinking water throughout the day to help rinse away food particles and maintain hydration.

Visiting the Dentist

kid brushing teeth at the dentist office


When Do Kids Start Going to the Dentist?

Starting early is key to ensuring a lifetime of healthy smiles. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children visit the dentist by their first birthday or within six months of their first tooth appearing. These early visits are crucial for several reasons. 

They allow the dentist to check for any signs of early tooth decay, assess the growth and development of the child's teeth and jaw, and provide parents with guidance on proper oral hygiene practices.

During these initial visits, the dentist will perform a gentle examination to ensure that the teeth and gums are developing normally. They will also clean the child's teeth to remove any plaque or tartar buildup and apply fluoride if necessary. Regular dental check-ups, typically every six months, help prevent cavities and identify potential issues early. 

These visits are also an excellent opportunity for parents to ask questions about teething, thumb-sucking, and other oral health concerns.

Establishing a dental routine early on helps children become accustomed to the dentist's office, reducing anxiety and making future visits more comfortable. It also reinforces the importance of dental care as part of their overall health and well-being. 

By starting dental visits early and maintaining regular check-ups, parents can help their children develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

Choosing a Kids Dentist

Finding a good pediatric dentist can make all the difference in your child’s dental experience. Look for a dentist who specializes in treating children and understands their unique needs. 

Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or your pediatrician. During visits, expect the dentist to make the experience fun and engaging, using kid-friendly language and tools. This positive experience helps build a foundation for lifelong good oral hygiene habits.

Making Dental Hygiene Fun

How Do You Explain Oral Hygiene to a Child?

Explaining oral hygiene to a child can be a fun and educational experience. Use simple language and visuals to illustrate the importance of keeping their teeth clean. 

For example, you can compare brushing to scrubbing off "sugar bugs" or "cavity monsters" that like to hide in their teeth after meals. Reading books or watching videos about dental care can also make the learning process more engaging and relatable.

Games and Rewards

Incorporating games and rewards can transform dental hygiene from a chore into a fun activity. Create a colorful brushing chart where kids can place a sticker each time they brush their teeth. Offer small rewards for a full week of successful brushing and flossing. You can also invent tooth-brushing songs or turn brushing time into a game with a timer to see who can brush the longest and most thoroughly. This approach not only makes the routine enjoyable but also encourages children to develop and maintain good dental habits.

Summer-Specific Dental Care Tips

Healthy Summer Snacks

Summer often brings a bounty of sugary treats and drinks, but it's important to keep those pearly whites in mind. Opt for tooth-friendly snacks like fresh fruits and vegetables, which are not only delicious but also help clean teeth naturally. 

Crunchy options like apples, carrots, and celery are particularly good at scrubbing away plaque. Encourage kids to enjoy cheese and yogurt, which are rich in calcium and help strengthen teeth. Water should be the drink of choice, as it keeps kids hydrated without the added sugars that can lead to cavities.

Travel Dental Kits

Summer is a time for adventures, whether it's a family vacation or a fun-filled camp. Make sure your child’s dental hygiene doesn’t take a holiday by packing a travel dental kit. Essentials include a toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste, floss, and a small bottle of mouthwash. 

Travel-sized versions of these items are perfect for fitting into a backpack or suitcase. Having a dedicated travel kit ensures that even when routines are disrupted, maintaining dental care is still a priority.

mom and kids brushing teeth


Special Considerations

Dental Hygiene for Kids with Braces

Caring for teeth with braces requires extra attention. Kids should brush after every meal using a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to remove food particles stuck in brackets and wires. Flossing becomes trickier but remains essential; using a floss threader or interdental brushes can help navigate around braces. 

Encourage the use of an antimicrobial mouthwash to reduce plaque buildup and maintain gum health. Regular dental check-ups are crucial to monitor progress and address any issues promptly.

Handling Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies can be stressful, but knowing what to do can make all the difference. For a knocked-out tooth, rinse it gently with water and try to place it back in the socket if possible. 

If that's not an option, keep the tooth moist in milk or a saline solution and seek dental care immediately. For severe toothaches, rinse the mouth with warm water and use a cold compress to reduce swelling. Avoid placing aspirin on the tooth or gums, as it can burn the tissue. Contact your dentist promptly for professional care and advice.


Maintaining good dental hygiene during the summer is essential to keep those bright smiles healthy. From understanding the basics of dental care and starting early with young children to tackling the unique challenges of school-age kids, summer activities, and dental emergencies, every step plays a crucial role in ensuring long-term oral health.

Consistency is key. Implement these tips daily, making dental care a fun and integral part of their child’s routine. Remember, good habits formed now will benefit your child for a lifetime, preventing future dental issues and promoting overall well-being.

Share your favorite dental hygiene tips and any creative ways you keep your child’s teeth clean during the summer.

Leave your comments below; we love to hear from you! And don't forget to follow Easy Peasie for more info and convo on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram! ~ThePeas

The Peas

EasyPeasie was created and is owned by two sisters — two Peas in a pod! Between us are two doctors (a pediatrician and an engineer), a mommy, and an auntie. We care about kids’ nutrition, and are in the business of providing families simple, natural, convenient, and fun ways to improve every meal with added vegetable nutrition. Send us your thoughts and questions on babies, toddlers, veggies, veggie palate primers, being parents, being patients, doctoring, being doctored, or anything else! Comment on our blog, drop us a note on Facebook or Instagram.

Leave a comment