Summertime, and the living is easy! Remember that tune from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess? Now it’s time to get those choppers in good shape.
Have you been to your dental practitioner yet this season? How does your smile look? Are you ready for summer?
During this season of summer celebrations, keep a serious health issue top-of-mind: the importance of maintaining good oral health care habits, according to dental practice management group Aspen Dental.
Between outdoor cooking and amusement park fare, summertime eating can be synonymous with sugary, sticky foods and fizzy drinks, which can contribute to tooth decay if patients don’t practice good oral care. Brush at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, which helps remove food and plaque.
You should also floss to remove plaque between teeth and below the gum line where your toothbrush can’t reach. If you’re not able to brush your teeth immediately after consuming a sugary food or drink, rinse your mouth with water to help wash it away. Another tip is to minimise snacking, which creates a constant supply of acid in the mouth.
Avoid constant sipping of sugary drinks or frequent sucking on sweets and mints. In addition to fizzy drinks, other beverages that may be high in sugar are certain juices and sports drinks – check the label to see how much sugar you’re drinking.
Also, denture wearers should clean their gums to avoid plaque build-up that can irritate the tissue under dentures, and thoroughly clean dentures at night to avoid bacteria growth. And if your dentures no longer fit as well as they once did, consult your dentist about an adjustment or replacement – the tissues in the mouth change over time, and bone and gum ridges shrink, which can result in ill-fitting dentures that make eating uncomfortable or downright painful.
While the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) recommends that dentures be replaced every five to seven years, many people keep the same set of dentures for much longer.
One sign that it might be time for a replacement is the overuse of denture adhesive cream. If you are using more than one tube of denture cream every three weeks, your dentures may not fit properly and should be evaluated.
Visit your dentist to see if they need to be adjusted. A recent study has shown that people who stay fit and healthy are 40% less likely to develop tooth-threatening gum infections that could lead to gum disease, according to the BDHF.
It also found that not exercising, not keeping to a normal body weight and unhealthy eating habits made a person much more likely to get advanced gum disease. If you are serious about your health – and your teeth – you will need to exercise, eat a healthy, balanced diet and keep to a normal body weight.
If you have gum disease, your dentist or hygienist will usually give your teeth a thorough clean to remove any scale or tartar. This may take a number of sessions with the dentist or hygienist. They will also show you how to remove the soft plaque yourself, by cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth thoroughly at home. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth every day. Gum disease is never cured.
But as long as you keep up the home-care you have been taught you can slow down its progress and even stop it altogether. You must make sure you remove plaque every day, and go for regular check-ups with the dentist and hygienist, as often as they recommend.
Visit your dentist or hygienist if you have any of the symptoms of gum disease, which can include:
• Inflammation of the gums, causing them to be red, swollen and to bleed easily, especially when brushing
• An unpleasant taste in your mouth
• Bad breath
• Loose teeth
• Regular mouth infections.
While summer fun always brings a smile to everyone’s face, the season doesn’t always have the same effect on teeth according to Vivastic, which offers these important summer tips to keep that smile looking its best during the warmer months:
• Ocean v pool – chlorine, which is often used in swimming pools, can erode and weaken teeth; whereas, the ocean’s salt water decreases bacteria in the mouth providing a healthy oral environment, making ocean activities your optimal choice. If you are more often exposed to pool water, you should get a fluoride treatment or bonding
Watermelon helps clean teeth and gums due to high
water content, but citrus fruits like oranges and
grapefruit can cause erosion
• Moderate sun bathing – there are many reasons why people shouldn’t lay out in the sun, but when it comes to teeth, casual and moderate sun exposure is beneficial as it increases Vitamin D –an essential to maintain a healthy smile
• Refreshing summer snacks – fruit is always a popular summer snack, so it is important to know which fruits are better for your teeth. Watermelon helps clean teeth and gums due to high water content, but citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit can cause erosion. If you love citrus fruits, rinse your mouth with water after you eat to wash away the harmful acids that can weaken the enamel
• Maintaining hydration – activities in the summer heat often lead to dehydration and dry mouth, which can cause serious tooth decay. Sucking on hard sweets that are artificially sweetened or chewing on sugarfree gum is ideal to help promote the production of saliva, eliminating this problem. It is also important to drink a lot of water.
The summer is a great time to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Lots of activities are available for you and your family to have fun. While you are out and about, make sure that you take care of your smile. That way, when you are reminiscing this fall about your good times while on your vacation or just hanging out in your backyard, your smile will reflect how much fun you had.