Summertime Safety

Posted on June 4, 2013 in General oral health

poolSummer is typically a relaxing time of year, but just because you're taking it easy in the sunshine doesn't mean you can ease up on oral health care. In fact, there are a few things you should be even more vigilant about in the summer.

Slather on SPF
And we don't just mean your arms and legs. To help prevent oral cancer, make sure your lips are protected from the sun's harmful UV rays by using a lip balm that contains sunscreen. SPF 15 or higher is ideal, and don't forget to reapply!

Tame the treats
As tempting as it is to cool off with popsicles and ice cream, make those sweet treats a once-in-a-while habit, not a daily occurrence. When you do have sugary snacks, try to eat them with meals. Chewing other food stimulates saliva glands, and extra saliva helps wash sticky food debris from teeth.

Drink up
Stay hydrated, but make sure you're doing it the right way. Water and milk are your best bets for keeping cool and keeping your teeth healthy. Not only do sports drinks and sodas contain acids that erode tooth enamel, the caffeine in most soft drinks has been linked to dry mouth. If dry mouth is a problem for you, you should also try to avoid summer sangria and other seemingly refreshing alcoholic beverages – alcohol can also be a cause of dry mouth.

Keep teeth safe during sports and in the water
Whether you're water-skiing or swimming laps, if there's a chance that your teeth could be injured, you should be wearing a mouthguard. Donning a mouthguard can not only protect your teeth, but also reduces the risk for jaw fractures and lacerated and bruised lips and cheeks. Other summer activities that should involve a mouthguard include volleyball, baseball, water polo, surfing and bicycling.

Another issue pool-goers should be aware of is “swimmer's calculus,” a condition in which teeth develop yellow or brown stains due to constant exposure to pool chemicals. Swimmer's calculus typically only affects swimmers who spend more than six hours a week in chemically treated water. Let your dentist know if you notice these stains on your teeth or your children's teeth. Your dentist should be able to treat the stains — and if it's a chronic issue, may recommend increasing dental cleanings to three or four times yearly. 1

Be sure to safeguard your smile this summer and don't let a perfect day at the pool be ruined by a sunburn, tooth stains or a preventable mouth mishap.