Every season has its charm. Summertime has warmth and sunshine, and all the activities that come with it. Perhaps you’ve noticed that, as soon as the sunny weather starts, your diet and eating habits change with it. Outdoor feasts are a summer luxury that means eating richer foods and ice cream treats. And, in the heat, sodas or a cold beer sound especially refreshing. On Sunday, say you and your friends drive to the nearby picnic spot. What do you bring to the picnic? Let us guess: snack foods, heavily dressed sandwiches, candy or fast food, and fruity drinks.
Every time you eat or drink, the pH in your mouth decreases and it becomes more acid-saturated. Once this acidic environment is created, your mouth becomes the perfect place for bacteria to grow. And at the same time, acid attacks your tooth enamel, making it less resistant to stains or decay.
10 oral health tips for staying “in pH balance” this summer
- Avoid chewing on ice. It might help you cool off, but it’s bad for your teeth. The idea that chewing ice can dilute your stomach acids is a myth, but it can crack a tooth.
- Just as you would in spring, autumn and winter, stick to your oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth at least two times a day, and floss regularly.
- Beware of cravings for sweet soda drinks. And, if you really want to keep your mouth healthy, pay special attention to how much alcohol you consume. These sugary drinks encourage bacteria growth, and the acids in them deplete your oral pH.
- Replace unhealthy snacks like chips or ice-cream with seasonal fruits and vegetables, especially the green ones. Feel free to eat them raw, or turn them into summer smoothies.
- When on a picnic or at a barbeque, don’t open bottles and bags with your teeth—even if one is a favorite party trick. Unless you want a tooth to break, use your hands! It may take a second longer, but it will save you a ton of money and time on tooth repair.
- If you’re planning to participate in summer sports like volleyball or Frisbee throwing, consider using a mouth guard. You can ask your dentist to design one just for you, or buy one over-the-counter.
- When you plan on spending the whole day out in the sun, buy sugar free chewing gums if you’re unable to get to a bathroom to brush your teeth.
- Lip balm almost always has an SPF ingredient, and is a good sunscreen for your lips. Our lips are especially prone to burning, so it’s important to take care of them. Perpetual burns across the lips can lead to skin cancer that can spread into the mouth.
- Before going away to your summer vacation destination, visit your dentist for a routine check-up. If you don’t make an appointment in time, come in as soon as you’re back.
- This one can’t be emphasized enough: drink plenty of water! Don’t only replace those sugary beverages with it, but stay hydrated so that your body has the resources it needs to fight of the plaque and bacteria that’s bound to build in your mouth.
If there is a silver lining to taking care of your teeth while enjoying summer foods and fun, it’s that you can always wait a little while after a meal before flossing and brushing. In fact, study has shown that brushing about 30 minutes after a meal is even more effective at lowering acidic concentrations.
Make sparkling, healthy teeth part of what you think of in summertime! Enjoy your summer foods, but stay smart about your oral hygiene.