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Top 10 Tips for Healthy Teeth in Summer

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An older couple relaxing by a pool

Summer is supposed to be a stress-free season, a time to relax a bit and enjoy life. But while we’re playing, healthcare providers are working hard. Hospitals and urgent care facilities expect to see an increase in patients during summertime, as high as a 15-27% uptick at some urgent care centers. But a little knowledge and care can help you avoid many of summer’s biggest health challenges.  

In honor of June being National Safety Month, here are ten tips for healthy teeth to help you protect your own and your loved ones’ happy, healthy smiles.  

1: Pool water

Highly acidic or alkaline water can erode dental enamel and stain teeth with a yellow or brown tinge. Called “swimmer’s calculus,” it is caused by chemicals that kill potentially infectious microbes in the pool water, such as bacteria and viruses. This tends to be a significant problem for professional swimmers. Still, it can impact anyone who spends a lot of time swimming (especially kids who occasionally get a mouthful of pool water). But you can still swim and have a great smile!  

US Masters Swimming recommends  the following: 

  • Brushing your teeth before you swim 
  • Rinsing with plain water or a fluoride mouth rinse to help bring the pH level in your mouth back to neutral after you get out of the pool (wait an hour to brush to let enamel harden again)  
  • Regular visits to the dentist.  

2: Chewing Ice

Yes, it’s refreshing. But regardless of the season, avoid chewing on ice, as it can cause cracked and chipped teeth, damage to tooth enamel, problems with existing dental work such as fillings and crowns, and sore jaw muscles. Those who cannot quit the ice-chomping habit should get a physical checkup – studies have linked a compulsion to chew ice to anemia.  

3: Dehydration

Staying hydrated during a hot summer day is critical for overall wellness and dental health. A dry mouth can damage tooth enamel and cause dental decay. Besides drinking water, chewing sugarless gum can also help stimulate saliva flow as can mouth rinses developed for dry mouth care. If dry mouth persists, have a dentist or another health professional evaluate the problem.  

4: Scuba Diving  

“Barodontalgia,” also known as “Tooth Squeeze,” is oral pain caused by a change in air pressure. We’re sneaking this one into the tips list because, even though it typically does not affect healthy teeth, it can cause big problems for those with gum disease, dental infections, decay, abscesses and failing or incomplete dental restoration work. Regular dental checkups and good oral hygiene make underwater adventures far more pleasant. And if you do experience Tooth Squeeze, see a dentist ASAP.  

5: Social Media

Summer vacation equals free time for many teens, which may increase their use of social media. Parents should be aware that do-it-yourself dentistry is trending on YouTube and TikTok. From homemade braces to brushing teeth with highly abrasive substances, and dental alterations like reshaping teeth with files, it’s not just young adults. There’s plenty of potentially disastrous advice about denture repair online too. It’s important not to rely on random strangers for oral health advice and treatment suggestions, self-service dental care can damage teeth permanently. Knowing dental first aid, though, can help save a smile.   

6: Sports

Roughly a quarter of dental injuries in children can be attributed to sports accidents. Talk to your dentist about the benefits of wearing an off-the-shelf or custom-fit mouthguard when playing summer sports that include impact and speed.  

7: Summer Treats

Quenching thirst with energy/sports drinks, citrus juices or acidic drinks like lemonade weakens tooth enamel, which can lead to cavities and even tooth loss. Limit intake of artificially flavored, sugar-free treats that include citric acid and phosphoric acid. Also, limit acidic foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, sour candies, and vinegary pickles. When indulging in these foods or drinks, rinse mouths with plain water and wait an hour or so before brushing. (And here’s what to do if your teeth hurt when you eat ice cream). 

8: Slippery Surfaces

On a boat, at poolside or caught in a summer downpour, wet surfaces can result in slips and falls that can create dental damage. If a tooth or teeth have been loosened, knocked out, broken or chipped, try to see a dentist ASAP – within 12 hours or less. Knowing what to do during a dental emergency (see Social Media section, above), and getting prompt professional help, greatly increases the chances that a cracked or broken tooth can be restored to health

9: Treating teeth as tools

When you’re eating outside and discover that you forgot an essential utensil at home, it can be tempting to use your teeth to pry open, remove or snap something – but please take a minute to come up with a safer solution. Emergency trips to the dentist, a lot of pain, and plenty of money can be saved if you treat your teeth right. 

10: Skipping dental care

Summer provides many of us with a short escape from reality and you may be tempted to take a break from your dental care routine. Don’t do it – your teeth need daily at-home care and regular checkups and cleanings to help prevent oral disease and address any evolving issues well before they become painful and expensive problems.   

Of course, keeping your smile healthy and bright is a year-round activity. If you’re worried about the cost of dental care, consider joining a dental savings plan. Plan members can save 10-60% on virtually all dental procedures from more than 140,000 of participating dentists nationwide. If you have any questions about dental savings plans, reach out to us at 1-833-735-0399

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