Prepping for your Summer vacation? South Charlotte Dentistry has some great suggestions and tips for maintaining your families’ good dental health this Summer.
Cool down with frozen and iced beverages, but don’t chew on the ice!
Ice is super satisfying to crunch but bad for your teeth! A cup of ice seems like an innocent snack to reach for – it’s zero calories, it’s hydrating, and it’s water! What’s healthier than water?
Well actually, it turns out that persistently chewing ice can lead to quite a few serious problems.
Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, but the friction caused by crushing ice with your teeth can still damage your tooth enamel. Your enamel is the first line of defense against cavities, and it helps protect your teeth against sugar and acid erosion. When you damage your teeth by chewing ice, your teeth are left more vulnerable to tooth decay.
Chewing ice can lead to more urgent dental injuries as well, like cracked and chipped teeth, damage to existing dental work like fillings and crowns, or gum injuries. Excessively chewing ice can also commonly increase tooth sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures. If you’re persistently chewing ice and experiencing any of these issues, please contact your team at South Charlotte Dentistry as soon as possible.
It’s tempting to snack on ice to stay cool, but avoid chewing on it, and let the ice remain in your drink to keep it cool. Your tooth enamel (and likely all the people in hearing distance around you) will thank you.
If you have a habit of chewing ice, try the following instead:
- Let the ice dissolve in your mouth, rather than chewing it.
- Opt-in for slushies and drinks with ice slivers, rather than ice cubes.
- Put away the ice and find other crunchy refreshments, like cold carrots, apples, or celery.
If your ice chewing seems like an unstoppable craving, it may also be a sign of iron deficiency anemia. In this case, you should make an appointment with your primary care physician.
Sweet, sweet… SWEET summertime!
When we think of Summer, we picture ice cream, snow cones, frozen drinks, popsicles, and delicious iced sweet tea. Do you see a theme emerging here? So much sugar!
Limit the intake of sodas, sports drinks, alcoholic beverages, and sugary treats. Sugar erodes your teeth’ enamel, which can lead to cavities and tooth decay.
On that note, stay hydrated.
Instead of alcoholic or sugary drinks, the best liquid you can give to your body is always water! Drinking water has endless benefits for your body, teeth, and overall health. In the summertime, it’s very easy to become dehydrated while swimming, exercising, or spending time out in the sun. When you’re dehydrated, your mouth cannot produce sufficient saliva either. A dry mouth can lead to an increase in bacterial growth, as saliva fights away plaque in the mouth. Help prevent tooth decay and instead promote overall oral health by drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated.
If plain water isn’t your preference, try sparkling water or fruit infused water. Infusing your water with fruit is simple to do, and a pitcher with infused fruit is a beautiful addition to any table. Go easy on any citrus fruits; the acid from lemons and limes can be harsh on your teeth. Sprigs of mint, basil, or other fresh herbs can be a great addition to add a healthy flavor to your water.
Choose Summer party foods that are great for your teeth!
Outdoor pool parties, intimate patio gatherings, and big family barbeques are hands-down some of the best parts of Summer! There are tons of Summer party snack options that come to mind, but this summer we urge you to consider those snacks vs your teeth!
Serve the right kind of crunch
Chips and dip are standard party fare – and before we go any further, let’s be clear that we’re the last people trying to cancel chips and dip! But, consider how chips affect your teeth. As you’re chewing chips, little pieces can become stuck in between your teeth, and wet chips settle into the pits of your teeth. This creates cavity-causing bacteria, and not to mention, an inconvenience for your guests that probably want to jab a nail back there and remove the chip residue.
If you’re looking for other snacks that provide a satisfying crunch without replacing an entire meal, look toward crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, pears, peaches, carrots, celery, and raw broccoli. Fruits and veggies are basically like a natural toothbrush, whereas you eat them, they scrub off the built up food residue and stimulate saliva to wash away whatever is left. So to reiterate: you don’t have to give up your chips and salsa, cheese puffs, or beloved classic chips and dip – just balance out your spread with dental-healthy options too.
Charcuterie boards are all the rage – bring on the cheese!
Pinterest and Instagram show us drool-worthy and stunningly aesthetic charcuterie boards, so why not try one this Summer? Nothing makes a greater party statement than a well-put together charcuterie board as a centerpiece. Charcuterie boards provide meat, nuts, pickled veggies, dried and fresh fruits, and most importantly cheese! Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are all low in sugar and rich in calcium and phosphorous. Dairy strengthens and protects enamel, and some research also suggests that eating more dairy can lower your chances of developing gum disease.
Go seedless this summer.
Cut down on unwanted food getting stuck in your guests’ teeth by serving seedless fruits, vegetables, and bread. This can look like choosing potato buns over sesame or poppy seed buns, or picking crunchy fruits instead of kiwi, blackberries, or raspberries. The main summer fruit you can easily go seedless for is – you guessed it – watermelon!
Going on vacation? Here’s how you can stick to a dental routine.
Most importantly (and maybe obviously), don’t forget to pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss!
There is nothing worse after a long day of travel to get to the sink moments before bed, and realizing you forgot to pack your toothbrush. We’ve all been there – rather than run out to a drugstore, we probably just swish our mouth out and call it a night, leaving the problem unaddressed for the next day. By making a list of your essentials and checking it twice, you won’t be caught off guard. Some hotel stays offer complimentary brushes for their guests, but you shouldn’t count on it.
If you’re traveling abroad, specific brands of toothpaste or mouth rinse may not be available. For those who have a real preference with their toothpaste or require sensitivity toothpaste, this can mean going without those formulas and suffering for the duration of the trip. Resorts, cruises, airports, and tourist hubs also price these items far above their prices back home. Save time and stress by making sure you pack your dental equipment.
Don’t take a break from retainers and mouth guards.
Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you should change your dental routines. Taking even a few nights off from your retainers or mouth guards can have permanent damage to your teeth, which will require longer dental plans to see the required results, more visits, and more time and money spent.
Prepare your teeth for takeoff.
Many people experience dry mouth on airplanes due to the circulation of air and the temperature. In combination with wearing masks during plane travel, there’s a good chance you might experience dry mouth while flying. Avoid this by packing a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste in your carry-on in TSA-approved sizes. Bring a travel water bottle and refill once you’re past the security gates. The key to avoiding a dry mouth is to stay hydrated. If you eat before a flight, you can always hit up the bathrooms to give your teeth a quick brush.
Store your toothbrush properly while traveling.
- Purchase a travel safe, breathable container for your toothbrush
- Allow your toothbrush to dry out between uses, especially before packing away. When you put your toothbrush into a Ziploc bag when it’s still damp after use and then throw it into your luggage (i.e. a dark place), you’re putting your toothbrush into a compromising position where bacteria can thrive.
Additional tips for keeping kid’s dental health on track in the summertime
As parents have experienced time and time again, the adjustment from the routine of school to the lacking in-between of Summer vacation, kids can have a tough time sticking to their old routine or finding a new one that includes brushing and flossing every day. When children have a disruption in their sleeping and eating schedules, they’re sure to also have a tough time adjusting to new hygiene schedules. While we can’t advise on how to get your kid into the bathtub without putting up a fight, we do have some tips and tricks on how you can ensure that your child is prioritizing their dental health.
Establish and stick to a new post-breakfast and bedtime routine.
School schedules are a relief for most parents; there’s a weekday routine and weekend routine, and for the majority of the year, everything has a time and a place. Summer vacation might mean a more relaxed schedule, but it shouldn’t mean not having a schedule at all.
Summer camp, vacations, and more: remembering to brush their teeth.
When kids are excited about their Summer activities, it’s inevitable that brushing their teeth isn’t going to be their top priority. If they don’t remember to brush and floss every day, they’re going to come back with cavities and tooth decay as summer souvenirs. When you establish a solid dental routine at home, it will be so much easier for kids to stick to them while they’re away.
If they’re away from home, it also helps to let their caregivers or camp counselors know what their routine is if they need to wear something during the day or night (e.g. retainer or mouthguard and as a parent, you can always send gentle reminders or help them set up an alarm on their phone so that they know what time to brush and floss their teeth. If the child understands the benefits of following their dental routine (try not to focus only on the consequences), they will be willing to follow their set routines.
Schedule your back-to-school dental check-up appointment.
Without fail, the start of a new school year in the Fall brings in a rush of appointments for all health care providers. Avoid the rush and the conflict of all the extra-curricular activities by scheduling your child’s appointment early, before the school year starts. Plus, as soon as the Fall comes, you’ll want your kids to be ready for their yearbook photos with a bright, sparkling smile!
As the masks are coming off, make sure YOUR smile is ready to shine!
There’s something particularly beautiful about the simple joy of smiling at a stranger in passing by and the message being received loud and clear with a reciprocal smile, especially after all of this time communicating with our eyes and distanced waves. There is definitely magic in the air this Summer as we begin the process of reconnecting, and become accustomed to subsiding distancing measures and mask mandates.
At South Charlotte Dentistry, we know your friends and family have missed the luxury of seeing your faces up-close and in-person! Make sure your smile is ready to shine this Summer with routine dental cleaning and check-up!
Many patients have canceled or postponed routine appointments, whether it was because of lockdown or emergency-only restrictions, an abundance of caution, or ever-changing schedules and routines that needed adapting to. Whatever the reason or no matter the amount of time passed since your last appointment, there’s no better time than now to get back into your routine cleanings!
If you’re in need of cosmetic services like whitening, an alignment, or other procedures, we can also get you on the schedule. We provide day-of, in-office whitening in less than two hours, meaning you can go home with a whiter smile in no time at all. Give your team at South Charlotte Dentistry a call today!
Have a wonderful Summer!
With mask mandates lifting and life seeming to resume normalcy more and more every day, we know everyone can’t wait to reconnect with friends, family, and coworkers in the coming weeks and months. Your team at South Charlotte Dentistry wishes you a very fun-filled and enjoyable Summer, with smiles as bright and healthy as you!