In Florida, we get to enjoy the summer sun almost year-round. Still, the official summer months offer a nostalgia and feeling of freedom we don’t have the rest of the year. School is out, vacations are planned, and most people manage to make the most of all those extra hours of daylight. There are a few reasons you should be concerned about your dental health this summer, though. Are you engaging in summer fun that could harm your teeth?
Summer brings out the carefree spirit in almost everyone. It’s as if it’s ingrained in us from when we attended school. For two glorious months, we didn’t wake to an alarm, we lived in swim suits and bare feet, and stayed up past our usual bedtimes. These memories carry into adulthood, reminding us that we can still enjoy everything the season has to offer. What does this have to do with teeth? Here are a few examples of summer activities that could send you right to my office:
- Exposure to chlorine — The best way to stay cool during the summer (other than staying indoors) is to enjoy a dip in the pool. The problem is that the pH levels in chlorinated pools can damage tooth enamel. While I know you’re not drinking pool water, it is almost inevitable that you’re getting some water in your mouth. The best course of action is to be sure to rinse your mouth out with regular water after your swim to prevent trace levels of chlorine from sitting on your teeth.
- Engaging in sports — Despite the heat, we tend to spend more time outdoors during the summer. Those late sunsets make it possible to play pickup games of basketball, give rollerblading a try, or hop back on your bicycle. All of these activities are both enjoyable and healthy — until you take a spill and chip your teeth. Even if your favorite activity is seemingly low-risk, consider wearing a mouthguard to avoid dental emergencies.
- Drinking beverages with hidden sugars — It’s no big secret that sodas are full of sugar, but we rarely think about the sugar counts of some of our go-to summer thirst quenchers. Sports drinks, for one, are not only full of sugar; they contain acids that weaken your enamel, as well. This double-punch creates the perfect opportunity for tooth decay. The same goes for iced tea and lemonade. Even products with reduced sugar contain acids that compromise the strength of your teeth. Your best bet is to stick to drinking water whenever possible. If you simply can’t imagine summer without a poolside Arnold Palmer, try alternating with water to give your teeth a break.
I enjoy Florida summers as much as anyone — and I want you to do the same. If the worst happens, you know I’m here for you. But as much as I love seeing you, I’d love it even more if you’d take care of your teeth this summer to avoid the need for emergency dental care. In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine!