Oral Health Tips for Summer
Summer is here! The sun is out, the days are warmer and longer, and your summer vacation is likely around the corner. While summer brings seasonal comfort in its warmth, it also tends to disrupt normal routines, including dental routines. Dentists often associate the summer season with extra tooth decay and cavities. In order to make sure your teeth stay healthy and shiny this summer, check out these oral hygiene tips for the summer season.
Hotter days cause more sweating, meaning extra hydration is required to replace lost fluids. It can be tempting to choose sugary drinks like ice cold lemonade, sweet tea, and sodas to quench your thirst, but sugary drinks tend to dehydrate you faster while adding to worsened oral health. When you consume sugar, the bacteria in your mouth feed on that sugar and produce acid that erodes your teeth, consequently causing cavities. Even drinks that are marketed as healthy often have just as much sugar content as soda, such as juices and smoothies.
If you have a hard time choosing water, try to limit how often you drink sugary drinks, or opt for low sugar drinks such as milk, unsweetened teas, and unsweetened sparkling waters. If you do choose to consume sweetened beverages, you can protect your teeth by drinking faster rather than slowly sipping your beverage. Slowly sipping sugary drinks keeps the sugar in your mouth for longer, providing a 5-course meal for hungry bacteria.
Limit Certain Foods
Along with avoiding sugary drinks, there are certain foods that can cause extra harm to your dental health. Here is a list of some of the worst foods for dental hygiene that are best to consume in moderation, or avoid altogether:
- Sweets: Candy, cake, ice cream, pie, and all the sugary desserts. If you have a sweet tooth, try to opt for fresh fruit over baked goods and candy.
- Acidic foods: Pickles, citrus foods, coffee, wine, and anything with vinegar. These foods can be incorporated as part of a healthy diet, but too many acidic foods can cause the enamel on your teeth to wear. Like all good things, moderation is key.
- Dried fruits: These get their own category because dried fruits are often marketed as health foods and not seen as sweets. Dried fruit may as well be in the same food group as candy, but with a little extra fiber. Fruit already has high sugar content, but most dried fruits contain a large amount of added sugars in addition to the fruit's natural sugar content.
Protect Your Teeth While Playing Summer Sports
People are more active in the summer when nice weather comes out. You might be joining a summer sports league like beach volleyball, soccer, or softball, or maybe this is the time of year that you bust out the bicycles or rock climbing gear. Regardless of which sport you are going to engage in, it is important to protect your teeth during all of your summer activities.
The best way to protect your mouth while playing sports is to wear helmets and mouth guards. Helmets should always be properly fitted to be the most effective. If you are playing a high impact sport like football, helmets are especially crucial in reducing your chances of getting injured. Mouth guards are the most effective piece of safety equipment when it comes to protecting your teeth. They can help prevent chipped and broken teeth, as well as tooth loss entirely.
Protect Your Lips
Protecting your lips is an important part of maintaining good oral health. The skin on your lips is thinner and contains less melanin, making them more sensitive to sunlight and more likely to get sunburnt on sunny days. Too much sun exposure could lead to an increased risk of skin cancer on your lips.
The most effective way to protect your lips from the sun is to use sunscreen Chapstick. When looking for a good Chapstick, try to search for something with an SPF of at least 15. SPF Chapstick is specially designed to help protect your lips and are easily applied.
Avoid Chewing On Ice
Have you ever finished an ice cold drink on a hot summer’s day only to begin mindlessly chewing on the leftover ice? Chewing on ice is an incredibly popular bad habit that can be detrimental to your oral health. Chewing on ice can lead to the following problems:
- Damaged tooth enamel: Your tooth enamel is what protects your teeth from sugar, acid, and tooth decay. If the enamel becomes damaged, you are more susceptible to getting cavities.
- Cracked or chipped teeth: Your teeth may not be as tough as you think. Ice is actually hard enough to crack your teeth. If you do ever suffer from a cracked tooth, make sure to put any parts of the tooth directly into a cup of milk and call your dentist right away. In some cases, cracked teeth can be saved if repaired quickly enough.
- Damaged braces or dental fillings: Just as ice is tough enough to directly crack your teeth, it can also cause some serious damage to any existing oral appliances like braces or fillings.
If you have a craving for ice, try something softer like ice shavings or a popsicle, but go easy on the sugar.
Regularly Visit Your Dentist
Regular trips to the dentist are necessary for keeping your best oral hygiene. Even in the summer when you are busy having fun, it is important to keep up with your semi-annual dental appointments.
When going to the dentist, you can expect a thorough cleaning and checkup. Our dental nurses use specialized brushes and dental equipment to clean those especially hard to reach places, helping you keep your mouth clean and healthy. We will also check for cavities or signs of gingivitis, and help guide your oral hygiene habits to keep you healthy.
For questions about your oral health, or to book an appointment, you can call our Family Dental Health Center office at (208) 529-0120.