Ah, summer! You wait for it all winter long. Once it arrives you might indulge in a few more foods, drinks, and activities that can put your teeth at risk. From sports drinks to ice cream and popsicles, summertime can lead to some common encounters with hidden dental threats. There’s no reason to fear enjoying the weather. Just keep these dental tips in mind to make sure you won’t need to squeeze in an emergency dental appointment during your fun in the sun.
Use Bottle Openers, Not Your Teeth
Although most bottles today have twist tops, if you do come across a cap that needs a bottle opener, use one. Your teeth should never be used as a tool. Even trying to chew a plastic thread to remove the tag from your new bikini or t-shirt can cause damage to your teeth. Over time all this wear and tear can lead to costly dental restorations. This summer, use the right tool for the job and keep your teeth intact!
Use a Mouth Guard
Summer tends to get you outside and participating in more activities and sports. You’ve hung up your ice skates, but you shouldn’t put away that sports mouth guard. Proper protection is a must for many summer activities including:
Whether you are a die-hard BMX racer on the trails, or just going for a casual ride at the park, an unexpected fall, accident or even a rock can shoot up and hit your mouth. Your helmet protects your head, but nothing protects your teeth, so put on that mouth guard.
- Skateboarding, scooters and rollerblading
All the same hazards you face on your bike can be encountered on your skateboard, scooter and rollerblades. That’s why your mouth guard and helmet should go hand in hand this summer.
- Soccer and volleyball
Protect that smile when spiking that volleyball or out on the field. They might not feel hard, but a ball in the face could leave you with a toothless grin!
- Baseball and softball
From thrown bats to sliding into home plate, you can take a hit to your mouth that will cause some serious damage to your teeth.
Beware Summer Food and Drink
Summer brings on some of your favourite foods. Unfortunately, a lot of them can be bad for your teeth including:
Summer drinks such as lemonade, iced tea, sangria, and margaritas tend to contain highly acidic fruit that can damage the enamel of your teeth. The most harmful to your teeth include grapefruits and lemons. Avoid sucking on the citrus slices used to garnish your drinks and opt for store-bought orange juice as it tends to be less acidic.
- Sticky candy
Avoid chewy candies that stick to your teeth. As the residue sits on your teeth it turns into harmful acid that damages enamel and causes cavities. Avoiding candy altogether is smarter, and you can always opt to chew sugar-free gum if you need something chewy and sweet.
We all reach for the ice when the heat is getting to us. Adding it to your drink is fine but using it to cool down by chewing it is not. Chewing ice can damage your teeth with chips, cracks, and worn enamel. The same can be said for popsicles, so proceed with caution when biting down on a popsicle right out of the freezer.
- Dried fruit
Since you’re being told to avoid sticky candy it is a natural response to reach for the dried fruit as a healthy alternative. Guess what? It’s just as bad as candy for your teeth! It too can stick to your teeth and leave the natural sugars to build up acid to cause just as much damage as sweets.
- Sugary and carbonated drinks
Sugary, carbonated drinks provide a double threat. Sugar washes over your teeth which can lead to tooth decay, while the acidity of carbonated drinks erodes enamel. Your best bet to beat the heat? Water. Another good choice is unsweetened tea. Chilled it is delicious, refreshing and also suppresses bacteria build up to slow down tooth decay and gum disease.
Although it’s close to impossible to avoid sipping a cool adult beverage on a patio, poolside or at a barbecue, alcohol dehydrates reducing the saliva in your mouth. Staying well hydrated is a must in the summer as with less saliva in your mouth, bacteria can build up leading to tooth decay and gum disease. If you are dead set on the sugary, acidic or alcoholic drinks, use a straw to reduce contact with your teeth.
- Corn on the cob
We all love it, but corn on the cob is notorious for getting caught between your teeth. You can still enjoy your corn, just make sure you floss immediately after.
- Ice cream
Ice cream and sundaes also contain tons of sticky sugars that stick to your teeth. A rinse with water can help reduce the sugars.
As already mentioned, staying hydrated in the summer is very important. Drinking water is always your best summer choice as it will keep you hydrated and your mouth moist. You will wash away bacteria and help keep your breath fresh. Although bottled water is often more convenient, opting for tap water is best. It is not only good for strengthening your teeth thanks to the fluoride but also better for the environment with less single-use plastics going to landfill. The acid from the gas in sparkling water can also erode your enamel, so stick with still tap water.
SPF 15 Lip Balm
As protectors of your oral health, dentists watch out for your mouth, inside and out. Your lips need protection when out in the sun. Use an SPF lip balm of at least 15 to protect your lips from burning. Remember to reapply throughout the day to keep lips protected from sun damage.
These simple tips will help you enjoy the summer while reducing the many added risks it can present to your oral health.
For more dental tips for the summer, call Oakville Place Dental at 905-842-6030 or contact us here.