5 Summer Tips for Healthy Teeth

Summer is a great time for fun in the sun with friends and family. It is also a time for backyard barbeques, ice cream cones, and drinking an icy beverage after spending time outside on a hot summer day. Sounds like a wonderful time. But, here's the thing - summer can also be hard on your teeth. Sugary foods and quick snacks instead of healthy meals can increase the risk of cavities and other dental problems.

Here are five tips to help keep your teeth in top shape this summer.

1. Drink plenty of water

Staying hydrated is important, especially during the hottest months of the year. While it might be tempting to drink sweetened beverages, such as soda and fruit juices and iced flavored coffee drinks, these all contain large amounts of sugar that can lead to tooth decay. Sadly, the staple of southern living --sweet tea-- is the "curse of the South" because of its high sugar content.

For optimal healthy teeth, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated this summer. Water washes away plaque-causing bacteria and helps neutralize the pH in your mouth, which helps protect your teeth from tooth decay, gum disease and other oral health issues. Opt for tap water whenever possible, as fluoridated tap water helps strengthen tooth enamel to make your teeth more resistant to tooth decay.

2. Maintain a routine

Routines are a bit more flexible in the summer, for both kids and for adults. While summer schedules change to accommodate early morning hikes and late-night concerts, it is still important to maintain a regular daily dental routine. Brushing twice a day and flossing once daily will keep your pearly whites looking and feeling their best.

Summer is also a great time to replace old, germy toothbrushes with fresh, new ones for the whole family. Look for summer sales and stock up on dental care products for the whole year. Be sure to buy travel size toothpaste and floss to use while on vacation, or on a day trip where you expect to eat and drink a lot of sugary snacks.

3. Use an environmentally friendly straw

Acidic beverages can erode the tough enamel coating that protects your teeth. Avoid drinking acidic beverages, such as sweet tea, lemonade, lemon water, and Gatorade. If you do decide to drink an acidic beverage, use a paper or cardboard straw to reduce the amount of fluid contacting your teeth. For best results, finish the beverage quickly, rather than sipping it over a long period of time.

4. Choose your snacks wisely

Avoid sugary snacks, as cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth use sugar to produce acid that dissolves tooth enamel and damages teeth. Chewy sweets (like gummy vitamins, fruit roll-ups, and caramels) remain on the teeth longer than other types of foods, and can lead to more damage.

Instead, opt for crunchy vegetables that scrape away plaque as you chew, dairy products (that provide enamel-strengthening calcium and fluoride), and whole grains. Summer is a great time to stock the fridge with tooth-friendly, garden-fresh foods.

5. See your dentist

Before going on a summer getaway or returning to school in the fall, visit your dentist. A quick trip to your dentist can make your smile look great and prevent dental problems from ruining your vacation and help you maintain your bright, white smile all year round.

For more summer tips for healthy teeth, talk to Dr. Ann Coambs at Imagine Dentistry. We give each of our patients personalized attention and high-quality dental care in the busy summer months, just as we do all year round. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.