Summer is finally here! As the weather begins to heat up, most of us spend more time participating in outdoor activities. Different activities like Tennis, horseback riding, basketball, and swimming. As we have all of this fun, there are a few precautions one should take to protect their oral health. Protecting yourself will make the summer safer and much more fun.
Summer Smile Protection Tips
1. Sports Mouthguards – As we do more physical activities, we need to think about our teeth, just like our skin needs protection from the sun, our teeth need protection from trauma. Approximately 40% of all sports related injuries involve the head, more precisely, the face.Having your dentist fabricate a custom made athletic mouthguard, will decrease your risk of tooth loss from trauma significantly. Research has also shown that these athletic mouthguards can also lower the risks of a concussion, as well as, enhance your athletic performance by helping maintain airway and more efficient breathing.
2. Sports Drinks – Sports drinks (like gatorade) have become extremely popular beverages even for non athletes, but they can also be damaging to our smiles. Most sport drinks contain a high content of sugar and are highly acidic. Consumption of too many sports drinks can lead to tooth decay and tooth enamel erosion. If you choose to drink sports drinks during activity, keep a limit on them, drink plain water in between, and practice proper oral hygiene to keep the acids and sugars from attacking your teeth. Remember, sport drinks are made to replace what your body loses during extreme sweating and exertion, they are not meant to be a beverage consumed with lunch. Use them properly and you will not suffer the damage that they can incur.
3. Drinking Water – Water is great for your body, skin,and your teeth. Choose pure water with no added flavors or carbonation and you will not have to worry about demineralizing your teeth, many of the additives can cause tooth enamel breakdown. Water can also help by flushing away food particles and bacteria, keeping your mouth clean and fresh. The simple act of drinking water helps to maintain oral hygiene. Maintaining good oral hygiene also includes proper brushing, flossing, and use of an antibacterial mouthrinse. Following a good oral hygiene program should always include staying properly hydrated. The best part about water is you can drink it any time with no side effects. It is truly the perfect drink for your entire body.
4. Swimming and chlorine- Swimming in your pool is a great way to exercise and spend time with your family and friends. The swimming pool contains chlorine, a very hazardous chemical, which can cause damage to your teeth even when levels are properly monitored. Spending a lot of time in a pool with poorly maintained chemical levels can cause permanent damage to your teeth’s enamel. Water that is over chlorinated (such as many community pools) may cause tooth enamel erosion and permanent staining of teeth. The tooth surface is directly affected by harsh chemicals, such as acid, causing the enamel to erode, thin, breakdown, and stain. When there are high levels of chlorine in the pool, the water becomes more acidic. Continuous exposure to acid can cause the damage to begin and subsequently progress.
5. Chewing Gum - Chewing a sugar free gum containing xylitol is a great way to protect your teeth. Gum chewing helps to increase the production of saliva in the mouth. Saliva helps keep the mouth neutral, or balanced. The addition of xylitol to the saliva helps this balance at another level. Xylitol cannot be converted to acids by oral bacteria, so it helps to maintain a proper alkaline/acid balance in your mouth. Chewing gum also helps satisfy your snacking desire, which may be a great way to decrease the intake of junk food snacks for you and your children.
We all look forward to Summer and enjoying the great weather. Now it is time to enjoy it fully, without suffering from it for the rest of the year. Be aware of the hazards, and be prepared for you and your family. Taking care of you and your family will make this the best summer yet! Have a happy, healthy summer!