Warmer weather moves people out of doors more often. This is good for “body and soul.” Sunshine gives us a daily dose of natural vitamin D. Plus, being active outside leads to more movement and social involvement.
So, how could this be challenging to a smile? After all, these activities should have us smiling more – right?
Let’s begin by discussing acidic damage to teeth. To begin, the summer months are peak garden growing season. YAY! We tend to savor fat tomatoes right off the vine. The lemonade flows and juicy orange wedges are like smiles of sunshine.
As you enjoy these fruits and veggies, just remember that foods naturally high in acid are also tough on tooth enamel. Because many acidic foods are ‘in season’ in summer months, they are consumed more often.
And speaking of acid, let’s also discuss soft drinks. While we may refer to them as soda, cola, or ‘pop,’ these beverages do anything but quench your thirst. As a matter of fact, they are downright dehydrating. This means that they dry out oral tissues by slowing saliva flow.
Add this acid to oral dryness and you have a recipe for bacteria growth. This is true for even sugar-free drinks. When these soft drinks are sweetened, you get a triple whammy to your oral health. For dark colas, you can add tooth staining to the list – 4 strikes!
Sugary drinks, which are consumed all year, are downed far more frequently during hotter months to “cool” us down. These include colas as well as sports drinks. Not only are most of these full of sugar, they tend to be consumed slowly.
This means that an acid onslaught in your mouth lasts from the first sip and continues for the duration it’s consumed. Consider, too, that this acid is so potent it can soften tooth enamel.
It takes an acid attack 20-30 minutes to subside after consumption is concluded. This means that taking a gulp every 5 minutes for 30 minutes places your mouth under attack the entire 30 minutes, plus at least 20 more afterwards as the acid attack subsides.
Let’s say you munch on some potato chips along with your beverage. While chewing, notice how they feel sticky in your mouth. The bacteria in the mouth thrives on carbohydrates because it is converted into sugar as you chew. This sticky starch easily adheres between teeth, allowing oral bacteria to feast even after swallowing.
Prefer wine or beer as you enjoy fun-in-the-sun? Remember, wine is both acidic and contains carbohydrates (even red wine, which is also very staining to teeth). Both wine and beer contain alcohol, which has a drying effect on oral tissues. Oral dryness allows more buildup of bacteria, increasing your risk of cavities and gum disease.
Certainly, we’re not trying to deter you from the fun accompaniments of summer’s pleasures. After all, a juicy burger with a slab of tomato and a cola should never be denied, right?!!! We just want you to remember the your oral wellness this summer as you indulge.
Use these tips to help prevent the need for cavity repair or treatment for gum disease …
• Swish with clear water after drinking or eating. Or, periodically take large gulps of plain water and let it wash over teeth and gums before swallowing.
• Drink plenty of plain water throughout the day. Unlike colas, water is hydrating to the body. It also aids in the production of saliva, which is your mouth’s natural rinsing agent.
• Brush at least twice a day for at least two minutes each time. However, avoid brushing immediately after eating when tooth enamel is still in a softened state. Wait 20 minutes so the acid attack in your mouth subsides. This will keep your enamel from being compromised from abrasive tooth brush bristles and tooth paste.
• Limit snacking. Remember, an acid attack occurs whenever you eat or drink. Your mid-morning cola and mid-afternoon caramel latte’ may seem like minor treats but are hard on a smile. If you want a sweet treat, for example, have it as dessert immediately following a meal while an acid flow is already taking place in the mouth. This will prolong an existing one rather than trigger a new one.
• Choose your snacks carefully and read labels on sauces, dressings, etc. Sugar seems to find it’s way into many foods and some manufacturers are more careful about the amount than others. I was shocked to see that sugar was in my lemon pepper seasoning!
We want you to help you avoid the time or costs for dental treatment that can be easily prevented with simple, everyday measures. In addition to your at-home care, be committed to your 6-month check-ups and cleanings so your mouth gets a ‘clean slate’ at least twice a year.
Need an appointment? Want to get to know us personally during a free consultation? Call 219-987-5733.