When the warmth and freedom of summer finally hit, the health of your teeth might be the last thing on your mind. However, some common summer activities and diets can actually make the warm months one of the most dangerous times of the year for your dental health.
This guide can help you understand common summer dangers so you don’t inadvertently harm your teeth. This guide is especially important to consider if you have children, because kids are less likely to remember or place a priority on dental hygiene, especially with the excitement of summer activities.
Food and Beverages
You probably do your best to feed your family nutritious foods during the school season, but once summer hits, it can be easy to get a little lax. Here are some of the biggest dental culprits you should watch out for when it comes to food and drinks.
The biggest threat to your teeth during the summer comes from food and beverage choice. Hotter weather means a higher consumption of drinks like lemonade, soda, and chilled juice. Some people will sip these cold beverages throughout the day, constantly exposing their teeth to higher sugar and acidity.
If you are going to drink sugary beverages, it’s best to do so with a straw and to do it all at once. Try to use water as your main refreshment. Not only will it hydrate you better, but it’s safer for your teeth.
Summer is also a time where snack consumption goes up. Children have a less structured routine because there is no school, and they are generally more active. This correlates into more snacking throughout the day. A reliable meal schedule is best for tooth health because it limits the exposure to starches that coat the teeth until they are brushed.
You might not be able to fully prevent kids (or yourself) from snacking during the summer, especially during vacations, long weekends, and road trips. Plan to provide tooth-healthy snacks like whole fruits and vegetables, low-sugar yogurt, almonds, string cheese, and lean meats.
Try to save refined breads and sweets for special occasions, or provide them with dinner or breakfast to make sure the residue is washed away with morning or evening brushing.
Many people like to chew on ice during the summer for a cooling effect. Chewing on ice is very dangerous to your teeth, especially if you have existing fillings and crowns. It’s better to chew on chilled carrots or apples instead of ice. If you like to have ice in your mouth, suck on chips instead of chewing on them.
Talk to your dentist if you can’t break the ice-chewing habit. They may have some suggestions for more interventions.
Sports and Activities
Summer is the season of increased time outdoors, in the pool, or engaged in summer sports. Your child may take swimming lessons, the family may go rollerblading or hiking, or youth might join local summer soccer teams and baseball leagues. These are all healthful activities, but you need to know the risks and plan for them.
Slips and falls on slippery pool decks are one of the leading causes for emergency dental visits during the summer. You can also hit your teeth on waterslides or shallow pool bottoms if you are not following the rules of the facility. Speak with each family member about pool safety, and be relentless in enforcing basic safety rules.
Remember that chlorine can accelerate tooth decay. If you or your child is in competitive swimming classes or spends plenty of time in your personal backyard pool, be sure to check that the pool’s pH is properly balanced at all times. Poor pool pH softens enamel and causes brown staining on your teeth.
Always brush your teeth after swimming so fluoride can help restore any minimal chlorine damage while strengthening your enamel.
Before enrolling your son or daughter into summer sports, be sure to speak with the dentist about whether or not your child will need a mouthguard. Sports injuries are one of the main reasons for premature tooth loss, and wearing a mouthguard can help protect vulnerable teeth from traumatic injury.
Wearing a mouthguard is even a good idea for some home-based activities like rollerblading or bike riding, especially for kids who are more prone to accidents.
More days spent running, climbing, swimming, and exploring means less attention to liquid intake. Even taking day trips to the lake or the zoo can result in dehydration during very warm days. Dehydration reduces saliva production. Saliva helps to protect your teeth from bacterial damage. Always take plenty of water with you to activities, and keep extra bottles in the car at all times.
Loss of Routine
Each family should take some time to decide how they will re-establish routine during the summer. It’s easier to remember to brush teeth with a solid bed time and departure time for school and daycare. It’s tougher in the summer, especially when on vacation.
Set alarms on your computer or phone to remind yourself and your kids to brush teeth morning and night, even when camping or visiting relatives.
For more information on summer tooth care, contact us at Valley Oak Dental Group Inc.