You’ve got the beach vacation marked on the calendar. You’re sporting a tan, and swimsuits and sandals are the current weekend wear of choice. It’s finally summer! Of course, there are a few precautions that we must all take to protect ourselves against the heat and beaming sun, and while all that Vitamin D can actually be good for your teeth, some defenses are still necessary.
Don’t Forget the SPF – Sure, you may try to lather on the sunscreen before heading out, but too often, the mouth is forgotten. Lips are susceptible to the ill effects of the sun as well and must be equally protected. Long-term, unprotected exposure can eventually lead to oral cancer. Be sure to use a lip balm with an SPF of at least 15 anytime that you are outdoors.
Know the Effects of Chlorine – Pool chemicals such as chlorine have well-known damaging effects on hair and eyes. However, their impact on teeth is often surprising to many. High levels of chlorine and other chemicals used to keep a pool’s PH in balance can also erode tooth enamel. Of course, it takes long-term exposure at elevated levels to result in serious damage, but for those who spend a lot of time swimming, it’s an important risk of which to be aware.
Drink Plenty of Fluids – Dehydration can occur all too easily in the hot, summer months. Most of us do not take in an adequate amount of water even in cooler temperatures. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 75 percent of Americans are dehydrated. Add to that the heat and excessive sweat that accompanies summer, and remaining hydrated becomes a very serious concern. Of the many ill effects that dehydration can have, tooth decay is included. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids to avoid these problems, but be certain that they are doing the job appropriately. Cooling off with sodas or sugary lemonade can actually make the problem worse.
Enjoy these next few months with plenty of time in the sun, at the pool, or at the beach, but please do so wisely. Don’t forget that your mouth can be negatively impacted by the sun and water just like other areas of the body. Take the proper precautions mentioned above, and schedule a dental exam to stay on top of your oral health.