Summertime Dental Tips
After a long winter this year, summer has finally arrived. Unfortunately, as the seasons change, different rhythms of life that come with summer can increase the risk of dental problems. Below are a few tips to make sure summer fun doesn’t become a dental nightmare.
Decreased brushing and flossing are commonly reported by parents during summer checkups for their kids. They report the lack of routine from school and regular bedtimes and morning schedules allow their kids to skip regular oral hygiene. It is important to create a new routine in the summer rhythm and emphasize brushing and flossing with your kids. A few ideas are to make a game of it, set reminders on the phones of older kids, have the parent brush for younger children, or set goals with prizes.
Drink water! Staying hydrated is critical to allow your body to produce enough saliva to keep your mouth moist and stop harmful bacteria from proliferating, leading to an increased risks of cavities and gum disease. Plan to have water nearby and avoid too many carbonated or sugary drinks. Carbonated (or sparkling) water, is more acidic which leads to cavities. Sugary drinks such as juices, sports drinks, soda, or energy drinks are both acidic and fuel the bacteria that lead to cavities. The best strategy is to stick to regular fluoridated tap water. Reverse osmosis water filters out the fluoride, which is a cavity preventer, and therefore is not as good for your teeth as tap water.
Drink fast and use a straw when water isn’t available. If you will be drinking anything that is acidic or sugary then there are strategies to decrease the dental damage done. Using a straw can reduce, but not eliminate, the acid and
sugar from touching the teeth. Drinking quickly reduces the time that the acid and sugar is in contact with teeth. The bacteria use the sugars and acidic environment for 20-30 minutes to do peak damage to the teeth. Therefore, limiting the length of time your teeth are in contact with these drinks can reduce the potential damage from the bacteria.
Avoid chewing ice. Chewing ice is popular in cooling down in t
he summer, but this habit can cause serious damage to your teeth. Teeth may not break immediately from chewing ice, but the cracks that can form may give way later requiring invasive and expensive treatment.
Protect your teeth. Over the years I’ve seen more broken teeth from baseb
all and softball than I have from football or hockey. The reason is that those sports require the use of a mouthguard. Mouthguards can protect teeth in any sport that has a risk of collisions or trauma to the mouth and face. Even though not always required, it is recommended to wear a facemask and a mouthguard to prote
Be careful swimming. Another cause of dental trauma in the summer is from diving in shallow water and playing around in the pool. Some accidents are unavoidable, so if there is trauma, be sure to contact your dentist immediately to find out how to handle the situation.
Summer is a great time for fun and a change of pace, just make sure you plan ahead to maintain good oral hygiene and prevention to minimize the risk of dental problems.