Having good oral health while camping or away at camp.

(Photo courtesy: South Boulder Pediatric Dentistry).

How to have good oral health while camping or away at camp

We reached out to Samantha Graffeo Gardner at South Boulder Pediatric Dentistry for her tips on maintaining oral health this summer.

Dr. Sam, as her patients call her, said maintaining good oral health is a common problem during the summer months. “I often have kids who admit they fall behind on their brushing when they’re away at summer camps,” she said. “It happens all the time. Kids come for their check-up the last week of summer before school starts and we ask them how brushing has been going but we know the answer before they tell us. It’s hard to remember to brush during camp, and when they’re sitting in the dental chair at the end of summer, we can tell how well they have taken care of their teeth by what we see during our exam. The best thing we can do, then, is to establish a routine that works for them before summer starts.”

Dr. Sam suggested “temptation bundling” as a good training tool. She said, “We’ve learned that bundling something you love and do every single night, like watching TikTok or reading, with something that’s important but you don’t want to do, like toothbrushing, can be very effective. A kid makes a promise to themself that they won’t do that thing they love unless they brush their teeth first. They make it contingent on doing that. Then when they go to sleep-away camp they continue the habit.”

She also recommends a foldable travel toothbrush. “If the toothbrush is an unwieldy thing and messy when it’s stuck in your child’s tote bag, they might not want to use it. A foldable one doesn’t have a second piece to lose, it’s always together, and the top covers the bristles. Sometimes they don’t floss while they’re in camp, but we tell them to at least use mouthwash.” Learn more of Dr. Sam’s tips for teaching kids to be responsible for their dental health at the new South Boulder Pediatric Dentistry opening in South Boulder in February. 805 S. Broadway, Ste 103, Boulder, 720.441.2974, southboulderpediatricdentistry.com.

By Linda Thorsen Bond, Raised in the Rockies