Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
New patients Welcome! Extended hours!     Book Online Now
Your Ultimate Guide to Keeping Teeth Healthy This Summer
April 26, 2024  |  Oral Health

Your Ultimate Guide to Keeping Teeth Healthy This Summer

Summer is a time for fun in the sun, delicious barbeques, and refreshing treats. But all that indulging can take a toll on your oral health. From sugary snacks to scorching sunshine, summer throws some unique challenges at your teeth.

This guide equips you with everything you need to know to keep your smile bright and healthy all season long. We'll explore how summer impacts your teeth, provide essential brushing and flossing routines, and offer tips on diet, hydration, and even sun protection for your smile!

Summer's Impact on Oral Health

Summer fun can sometimes lead to not-so-fun consequences for your teeth. Here's why summer might be a bit more challenging for your oral health:

Increased Sugary Drinks & Snacks: Ice cream, sodas, and barbeque staples like hot dogs and burgers are all summer favorites. Unfortunately, these sugary and starchy treats are a feast for cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth. The bacteria feed on sugar, producing acid that erodes tooth enamel and leads to cavities.

Dehydration and Dry Mouth: Hot summer days and outdoor activities can lead to dehydration. When you're dehydrated, your mouth doesn't produce enough saliva. Saliva plays a crucial role in washing away food particles and bacteria, keeping your mouth clean and moist. Dry mouth can increase your risk of cavities and bad breath.

Potential for Physical Damage: Summer is a time for adventure! But outdoor activities and sports also increase the risk of chipped or cracked teeth from falls or accidents. Mouthguards are essential for protecting your teeth during high-impact activities.

Brushing & Flossing Essentials for Summer

Even with all the summer temptations, maintaining a consistent oral hygiene routine is key to keeping your smile healthy. Here's how to brush and floss effectively for a sparkling summer smile:

Brushing & Flossing Essentials for Summer

Even with all the summer temptations, maintaining a consistent oral hygiene routine is key to keeping your smile healthy. Here's how to brush and floss effectively for a sparkling summer smile:

Brushing Basics

Choosing the right toothbrush: Opt for a soft-bristled toothbrush with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval. Soft bristles are gentle on your gums while effectively cleaning teeth.

Brushing for at least 2 minutes: Don't rush! Set a timer or play your favorite song twice to ensure you're brushing for the recommended amount of time.

Focusing on all surfaces: Brushing should cover the front, back, and chewing surfaces of all your teeth. Don't forget your tongue, where bacteria can also linger and contribute to bad breath.

Using fluoride toothpaste: Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent cavities. Choose a toothpaste with at least 1,350 ppm fluoride for adults and children over age 2.

Flossing Daily

Flossing removes plaque and food particles from between your teeth, where brushing can't reach. Here's how to floss effectively:

Types of floss: You have options! Choose between traditional dental floss or a water flosser. Both can be effective with proper technique.

Proper flossing technique:  Gently curve the floss around each tooth to remove plaque without snapping it against your gums.

Traveling with Oral Care Essentials

Don't let your summer adventures disrupt your dental hygiene routine! Pack these essentials to keep your smile bright on the go:

Travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste: Choose TSA-approved sizes for carry-on luggage.

Floss in a dispenser or single-use options: This makes flossing on the go convenient and mess-free.

Mouthwash for on-the-go freshening: Opt for a travel-sized mouthwash to keep your breath fresh throughout the day.

Diet & Hydration Strategies for Healthy Summer Teeth (Fuel your smile!)

The foods and drinks you consume play a significant role in your oral health, especially during the summer. Here's how to adjust your diet and hydration habits for a healthy summer smile:

Limiting Sugary Drinks & Snacks

Sugary treats are tempting, but they can wreak havoc on your teeth. Here are some strategies to minimize sugar intake:

Opt for water over sugary beverages: Water is your best friend for hydration and oral health. It washes away food particles and keeps your mouth moist.

Choosing fresh fruits over sugary desserts:  Satisfy your sweet tooth with nature's candy! Fruits are a delicious and healthy way to end a meal.

Alternatives to sugary snacks: Pack healthy snacks like nuts, yogurt, or baby carrots to avoid sugary cravings.

Staying Hydrated Throughout the Day

Dehydration is a major concern during summer. When you're dehydrated, your mouth doesn't produce enough saliva, leading to a dry mouth and an increased risk of cavities. Here's how to stay hydrated:

Benefits of water for oral health: Water washes away food particles and bacteria, preventing cavities and bad breath. Saliva production also increases with proper hydration, which helps neutralize acids produced by plaque.

Tips for increasing water intake throughout the day: Carry a reusable water bottle with you and refill it regularly.  Flavor your water with slices of lemon, cucumber, or berries for a refreshing twist.

Nutrients for Strong Teeth

A balanced diet rich in certain nutrients is essential for strong teeth. Here's what to focus on:

Calcium-rich foods for building strong enamel: Calcium is the building block of strong teeth. Include dairy products like milk and cheese or leafy greens like kale and spinach in your diet.

Importance of vitamin D for bone health (including teeth): Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, eggs, and fortified milk. You can also get vitamin D from sunlight, but be sure to practice sun safety while spending time outdoors.

Sun Protection for Your Smile

Sun protection isn't just about safeguarding your skin. The summer sun can also damage your lips and increase your risk of oral cancer. Here's how to keep your smile sun-safe:

Risks of Sunburn on Lips:  The delicate skin on your lips is susceptible to sunburn, which can be painful and increase your risk of skin cancer.

Types of lip balm with SPF protection: Look for a lip balm with SPF 30 or higher for broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. Reapply frequently, especially after eating, drinking, or swimming.

Dehydration from Sun Exposure: Spending too much time in the sun can contribute to dehydration, worsening dry mouth, and its associated oral health risks.

Importance of shade and sun-protective clothing: Seek shade during peak sun hours (10 am to 4 pm) and wear protective clothing, like hats with wide brims, to minimize sun exposure on your face and lips.

Carrying a water bottle for constant hydration: Staying hydrated is crucial for overall health, including your oral health. Carry a reusable water bottle and sip on it throughout the day to combat dehydration caused by sun exposure.

Maintaining Your Dental Routine on Vacation

Summer vacations are a time to relax and unwind, but don't let your dental hygiene routine take a vacation too! Ensure your smile stays healthy even when you're away.

Visiting your Tomball dentist for a checkup and cleaning before your trip is ideal. This allows your dentist in Tomball to identify and address any potential problems early on, so you can avoid dental emergencies while traveling.

Preparation is key! Pack all the essentials you need to maintain your oral hygiene routine while traveling. Refer to section II.C on travel essentials for a refresher on what to pack.

Fun Summer Activities for a Healthy Smile

Summer is all about having fun, and you shouldn't have to worry about your smile holding you back. Here are some tips for enjoying summer activities without compromising your oral health:

Healthy Summer Treats:  Just because it's summer doesn't mean you have to ditch sweets entirely. Here are some refreshing and healthy alternatives to sugary snacks:

Frozen yogurt with fruit toppings:  Frozen yogurt offers a satisfyingly cold treat with less sugar than ice cream. Top it with fresh berries for a burst of flavor and extra vitamins.

Homemade popsicles made with fresh fruit juice:  Making your own popsicles allows you to control the ingredients. Use fresh fruit juice, yogurt, or even coconut water for a healthy and delicious frozen treat.
Staying Active and Having Fun:  Physical activity is essential for overall health, and it benefits your oral health as well. Exercise increases blood flow, which helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to your gums, keeping them healthy. So get out there, swim, bike, hike, or play your favorite sport – just remember to stay hydrated!