Summertime means road trips, recreation and camping. If you’re concerned about how to ensure your family doesn’t neglect their oral hygiene while away from home, here are five things you can do

Talk About It

Don’t leave it up to chance that your children will use the toothbrush you packed. Have a discussion about how important oral health is and how quickly damage can be done if they don’t keep up their at-home habits. If you are camping as a family, set an example by making time each day to brush. You don’t have to stand around in a circle together, but reminding everyone to take the time from their fun activities may be necessary. At the end of an event filled day don’t let tiredness be an excuse to avoid what only takes two minutes.

Make Sure To Pack What You Need

Whether you are camping as a family or sending your kids to camp, make sure you plan ahead and pack everything necessary for good oral health and in sufficient amounts for the time away. Invest in toothbrush cases, all-in-one toothbrushes or pre-pasted brushes that only require water to activate. Don’t forget dental floss and even mouthwash. You can even make toothpaste dots by dotting toothpaste on wax paper, allowing them to dry for 2-4 days and coating lightly with baking soda so they won’t stick together. Include plastic sealable bags in your supplies. Be aware bears are attracted to mint so your toothpaste should be well sealed and kept with your food supplies.

Carry Bottled Water

In case you end up somewhere without a clean water supply, you should always have bottled water available. Make sure to save enough in case you need it for brushing and rinsing. Discourage your children from spitting the toothpaste on the ground as it can sicken animals. Either have a cup or plastic bag to spit in if you have to brush outside without access to a sink or other receptacle. It is also recommended to brush about 15 minutes walk away from your camp if you are in an area where there is wildlife so animals will not be attracted to your tent.

Make Use of Restrooms When Available

If you do have access to restrooms, whether at the camping grounds or at rest areas, use them. This makes for an easier and safer brushing experience. It may also be easier to encourage your kids to brush in a semi-familiar environment and easier to create a ritual similar to home for bedtime prep.

Carry Sugar Free Gum

In case there is any reason you won’t be able to brush as normal (running out of supplies, in an area where you don’t feel safe from animals or simply in a real time crunch) sugar free gum can be a substitute. This should not be a habit, of course, but it is a good alternative to use if needed to help clean your teeth in between brushings. You can encourage your children to chew a piece in between morning and evening brushings to cut down on the damage from constant snacking and sipping on sugary drinks. Like toothpaste, gum should be kept with your food supplies and should be disposed of correctly to avoid attracting or harming animals.

Good oral care while camping isn’t too difficult to manage. The hardest part is pausing the fun to do it. Try to find games or challenges to encourage your kids, and don’t stress out if you miss one brushing.