By Andrew Hickey on Jun 30, 2023 @ 01:17 PM
We all know about fun in the sun! But did you know summer is also a time when our oral health can suffer?
We usually focus on protecting our skin from the sun's harmful rays. However, we often overlook the importance of protecting our teeth and gums. From sugary drinks to cold treats, summer can pose unique challenges to our oral health. The good news: we can take a few simple steps to keep our teeth and gums healthy all summer long.
- Keep up with your oral care routine during the summer.
- Stay hydrated and rinse your mouth with water in between sugary drinks and treats.
- Moderate sweet treats with fresh fruits and unsweetened beverages
- Use high SPF sunscreen and lip balm – they protect your teeth and mouth.
- Be mindful of hard food that can crack or chip teeth - think ice cubes and popcorn kernels.
- For summer dental emergencies: you can take steps at home (rinse your mouth, use a cold compress) and be sure to see your dentist ASAP.
We’ll explore the importance of oral health in the summer, as we go over tips for teeth and mouths while soaking up the sun. So, grab your sunscreen and let's get started!
How the Summer Season Affects Your Oral Health
The summer season brings with it a host of activities and indulgences that can negatively impact our oral health. Whether it's sipping on a refreshing soda by the pool or enjoying an ice cream cone on a hot day, these treats can wreak havoc on our teeth and gums.
The high sugar content in these foods and beverages provides an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive, leading to tooth decay and cavities. Additionally, the acidic nature of many summer treats can erode tooth enamel, making our teeth more susceptible to damage.
Tips for Maintaining a Good Oral Hygiene Routine During Summer
Summer does present challenges to our teeth and gums. However, there are several steps we can take to maintain good oral hygiene.
To start, it's essential to continue practicing your oral hygiene routine. That means brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Remember to brush for at least two minutes, focusing on all surfaces of your teeth and along the gumline.
It’s also recommended that you choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and replace it every three to four months to ensure effective cleaning. Also consider using a fluoride toothpaste. This helps strengthen tooth enamel and fight against tooth decay.
Along with regular brushing and flossing, it's crucial to pay attention to what we eat and drink during the summer.
Foods to Avoid for Healthy Teeth During Summer
We all deserve to enjoy the flavors of summer. Although there are certain foods and drinks that can be particularly harmful to our teeth. Acidic foods and citrus fruits can erode tooth enamel over time. This leads to tooth sensitivity and increased vulnerability to cavities. Additionally, sticky treats like caramel and dried fruits can linger on our teeth, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. Consuming these foods in moderation and practicing good oral hygiene habits can help mitigate the potential damage.
While it's tempting to just indulge in sugary treats, it will benefit your teeth and gums to balance those with healthier alternatives. Fresh fruits and vegetables not only provide essential nutrients but also help stimulate saliva production. They keep your mouth moist and reduce the risk of tooth decay.
Importance of Staying Hydrated and Its Effect on Oral Health
A major barrier for oral health, and overall health, during the summer is dehydration. Our bodies lose more water through sweating, which can lead to dry mouth. Saliva is important in maintaining oral health by neutralizing acids and washing away food particles. Without sufficient saliva production, bacteria can flourish, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Furthermore, dry mouth can cause discomfort and difficulty swallowing.
It is highly important to stay hydrated throughout the summer months. Make it a habit to drink water during the day, especially when spending time outdoors or engaging in physical activities. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water daily and carry a water bottle with you to ensure you have access to water wherever you go.
If you want a companion to your water, you can also opt for unsweetened beverages. Sparkling water is a popular choice. There is also unsweetened iced tea, and you can even infuse your water with a squirt of citrus fruit and herbs. While they shouldn’t replace regular water (with fluoride) these drinks are considered to cause much less tooth erosion than other drinks.
If you do indulge in a sweet treat or a sugary drink, make sure to rinse your mouth with water afterward to help wash away any lingering sugars.
The Role of Sunscreen in Protecting Your Lips and Oral Health
When we think of sunscreen, we typically associate it with protecting our skin. It’s worth noting, our lips are also vulnerable to sun damage and require protection. The skin on our lips is thin and delicate, making it more susceptible to sunburn and long-term damage. Sunburned lips can become dry, cracked, and painful. It makes it uncomfortable to eat, drink, and even speak.
To protect your lips, look for lip balm or lipstick with a high SPF and reapply regularly. This is particularly important if you're swimming or sweating and spending extended periods in the sun.
Applying sunscreen to your face and neck can play a role in maintaining our oral health. It can help prevent oral cancer, a potentially life-threatening condition that affects the lips, mouth, and throat.
Common Summer Dental Emergencies and How to Prevent Them
While we all hope for a carefree summer, accidents can happen. So, it's essential to be prepared. One common dental emergency during the summer is a cracked or chipped tooth. It can often be caused by biting into ice or hard popcorn kernels.
To prevent this, be cautious when consuming hard or crunchy foods and avoid using your teeth as tools to open packages or bottles. In the event of a cracked or chipped tooth follow these steps: rinse your mouth with warm water, apply a cold compress to your face to reduce swelling, and seek immediate dental care.
Another common dental emergency during summer is a toothache. This can be caused by various factors such as tooth decay, gum infection, or a dental abscess. To minimize the risk of toothaches, maintain good oral hygiene practices, and visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings.
If you experience a toothache, rinse your mouth with warm saltwater and gently floss around the affected tooth to remove any food particles. Also schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
The Importance of Regular Dental Check-ups During Summer
Dental check-ups are crucial for maintaining good oral health, and summer is no exception. In fact, summer can be an ideal time to schedule your dental appointments. You may have more flexibility in your schedule, and waiting rooms may be less busy.
During a dental check-up, your dentist will thoroughly examine your teeth and gums, looking for any signs of decay, gum disease, or other oral health issues. They will also perform a professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar buildup. This helps to prevent cavities and gum disease. By staying on top of your dental check-ups, you can catch and address any potential problems before they worsen. It will ensure your oral health remains in top shape all summer long.
Natural Remedies for Maintaining Good Oral Health During Summer
In addition to practicing good oral hygiene and making healthy choices, there are natural remedies that can be helpful in maintaining good oral health during the summer. It is worth doing your research and talking to your dentists’ office about the different options.
One such remedy is oil pulling, an ancient practice that involves swishing oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes (with coconut oil for example). This is believed to remove harmful bacteria and promote healthy gums. Another natural remedy is rinsing your mouth with a saltwater solution, which can help reduce inflammation and kill bacteria.
Additionally, incorporating certain herbs and spices into your diet can provide oral health benefits. For example, chewing on fresh mint leaves or using mint-infused mouthwash can help freshen breath and kill bacteria. Clove oil, known for its analgesic and antiseptic properties, can be used topically to soothe toothache and gum pain. Incorporating these natural remedies into your oral health routine can provide added protection during the summer months.
As you enjoy the summer season, it's important not to neglect your oral health. Remember to schedule regular dental check-ups and consider incorporating natural remedies into your oral health routine for added protection. With these simple steps, you can reduce risks and soak up the sun with peace of mind.
This article is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute providing medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking medical advice should consult with a licensed physician.