PLANTATION, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The long, sunny days of Summer bring big fun, but some of the most popular seasonal activities can also damage some of the healthiest smiles. As Memorial Day approaches, marking the unofficial start of Summer, DentalPlans.com provides the top eight threats to dental health, and tips to help keep smiles bright and healthy:
1: Chemicals in swimming pools: Spend six hours or more per week in the pool and teeth may develop a yellow or brown tinge that requires a professional cleaning to remove it. Called "swimmer's calculus," it is caused by the relatively high pH of chemically treated pool water. Daily use of an electronic toothbrush and whitening toothpaste can help control swimmer's calculus, however it is recommended to brush with caution as aggressive brushing can weaken dental enamel.
2: Chewing Ice: Regardless of the season, avoid chewing on ice, as it can cause cracked and chipped teeth, damage to tooth enamel, problems with existing dental work such as fillings and crowns, and sore jaw muscles. Those who just cannot quit the ice-chomping habit should get a physical checkup – studies have linked a compulsion to chew ice to anemia.
3: Dehydration: Staying hydrated during a hot Summer day is critical for overall wellness and dental health. A dry mouth can result in damage to tooth enamel and cause dental decay. Besides drinking water, chewing sugarless gum can also help stimulate saliva flow as can mouth rinses developed for dry mouth care. If dry mouth persists, have a dentist or another health professional evaluate the problem.
4: Scuba Diving: "Barodontalgia," also known as "Tooth Squeeze," is oral pain caused by a change in air pressure. This syndrome typically does not affect healthy teeth, but can cause problems for those with gum disease, dental infections, decay, abscesses and failing or incomplete dental restoration work. Regular dental checkups and good oral hygiene make underwater adventures far more pleasant. Those who do experience Tooth Squeeze should see a dentist.
5: Social Media: Summer vacation equals free time for many teens, which may increase their use of social media. Parents should be aware that do-it-yourself dentistry is trending on sites such as YouTube – with videos on at-home orthodontics treatment suggesting that a smile can easily be perfected by wrapping rubber bands around your teeth. The American Association of Orthodontists says this can result in pain, decay, and tooth loss. Discuss the dangers of self-service dental care with kids.
6: Sports: Roughly a quarter of dental injuries in children can be attributed to sports accidents, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. That does not mean to stop playing, but one should consider wearing a mouth guard when playing Summer sports that include impact and speed. But since no one wants to wear full protective gear while engaging in every activity that could potentially result in a chipped tooth, it may help to learn more about dental first aid.
7: Summer Treats: Quenching thirst with energy/sports drinks, citrus juices or acidic drinks like lemonade weakens tooth enamel, which can lead to cavities and even tooth loss. Limit intake of artificially flavored, sugar-free treats that include citric acid and phosphoric acid. Also, limit acidic foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, sour candies, and vinegary pickles. When indulging in these foods or drinks, rinse mouths with plain water and wait an hour or so before brushing. Brushing teeth shortly after exposure to acids can worsen the damage.
8: Slippery Surfaces: On a boat, at poolside or caught in a Summer downpour, wet surfaces can result in slips and falls that can create dental damage. If a tooth or teeth have been loosened, knocked out, broken or chipped, try to see a dentist ASAP – within 12 hours or less. Knowing what to do during a dental emergency (see Sports, above), and getting prompt professional help, greatly increases the chances that a tooth can be restored to health.
Our best tip: prepare for the unexpected with a dental savings plan. Also known as dental discount plans, members save 10%-60% on virtually all preventive dental care and dental treatments from a nationwide network of dentists. To learn more about dental savings plans, visit dentalplans.com.
DentalPlans.com, founded in 1999, is a leading dental and health savings online marketplace in the U.S., helping more than a million people to affordably access quality healthcare services. Our mission is to empower consumers with the tools, information, and services that they need to live happier, healthier lives. www.dentalplans.com.