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AZ: Tooth Tips for a Fun Summer

March 09, 2012

by Office of Communications

Arizona is famous for its beautiful sunshine and fun-friendly weather, and kids all over Arizona rush to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. But when you tell your children to be careful, watch for traffic, and stay away from bumps and bruises, do you also think about helping them protect their teeth?

Kimberly K. Patterson, D.D.S., M.S., Assistant Professor at Midwestern University's College of Dental Medicine-Arizona and Pediatric Dentist at the Midwestern University Dental Institute, says that protecting your kids' smile is just as important as guarding against skinned knees and elbows. Fortunately, Dr. Patterson is ready with some simple but important tips for keeping children's teeth strong and healthy during the summer months.

  1. Use goggles while swimming. "Swimming with eyes closed can result in running into the side of the pool," says Dr. Patterson. "This can create fracture lines within the tooth which can weaken the tooth and cause serious problems down the road." Using goggles can help kids avoid underwater collisions.
  2. Use safety devices when playing on wheels. The first thing many kids want to do when the weather warms up is get out and enjoy some fun on bikes, skateboards, scooters, and inline skates. Dr. Patterson reminds us that you can be safe and still have fun. "Helmets are a must," she says. "Also, consider using a mouthguard to protect your teeth. Tooth trauma most often occurs as a result of falls, so prevention is the best safeguard."
  3. Try chewing gum that is good for you. Kids love chewing gum, so choosing the right kind can make a real difference in fighting cavities. "Chew gum with the natural sweetener Xylitol," recommends Dr. Patterson. "Xylitol keeps germs that cause tooth decay from sticking to teeth and also helps inhibit the growth of germs that cause flu and pneumonia. Imagine - a gum that is good for you and prevents cavities!"
  4. Avoid "gummy" vitamins. "Gummy vitamins are 'job security' for a dentist," says Dr. Patterson. "Read the label and look for glucose syrup and sucrose - both sugars - along with gelatin, beeswax, carnauba wax, and modified starch. All of these things are sticky and keep the sugars attached to the teeth for a prolonged period of time." Dr. Patterson recommends the use of chewable vitamins instead of gummies for children requiring vitamin supplements.
  5. Always brush before bedtime. The age-old advice that we hear from our youngest years never stops being important. "Germs that cause cavities never sleep," Dr. Patterson reminds us. "Make sure your teeth are 'slippery clean' before going to bed, and drink only water after brushing your teeth at night."

These tips, along with regular dental screenings, can help you and your children to enjoy the upcoming summer months with beautiful, healthy smiles! If your child needs a dental screening, contact the Midwestern University Dental Institute at (623) 537-6000 for an appointment, or visit for more information.

Midwestern University wishes you and your family a safe and fun summer!

More Information

For more information, please contact:
Office of Communications
630.515.7333 (IL) or 623.572.3353 (AZ)