TAKING CARE OF YOUR TEETH THIS SUMMER

taking care of your teeth this summerSummer is here and you've never felt better: you're working out more, spending time with family and friends, playing sports in the park and even making sure to wear sunscreen through it all. While the hot summer months can do wonders for your mood and maybe even your health, you may not have given much thought to how it effects one of the most important, but sometimes neglected, parts of your body - your mouth. With the potential for dental injuries along with different dietary and activity choices, summer is a better time than ever to start looking out for your teeth.

Here's what you should keep in mind during this year's hot season:

Sports injuries

With warm temperatures, plenty of sunshine during the day and maybe some extra time off, there's no better time to get outside, get some exercise or maybe play a game of football with your family and friends. However, it's important to make sure that you're looking out for your teeth in whatever sport you choose to play.

Between 13 and 39 per cent of all dental injuries are due to sports.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), 13-39 per cent of all dental injuries are due to sports and males are twice as likely to be injured as females1. Furthermore athletes tend to have a higher likelihood in general of having a dental injury. The same source states that athletes have a 10 per cent chance of getting an orofacial injury every season that they play1.

Considering the high rate of dental injuries from sports as well as the increased chance athletes have of receiving such an injury, it can be a good decision to take proactive measures so that your, or your childrens', teeth are protected. A mouthguard helps prevent the wearer's teeth from getting damaged while playing sports. For the best fit, your dentist can make you a custom mouthguard by creating a mould of your teeth so that the guard fits specifically to your own mouth. This type of mouth guard is often the most comfortable and least distracting option for athletes as opposed to store-bought models.

But what should you do if you end up getting a tooth knocked out? First of all, make sure to handle the tooth by the top and not the bottom so that you do not damage the cells at the roots. Gently rinse the tooth with water and place it between your cheek and gum to keep it moist, or if that's not possible, wrap it in gauze and immerse it in milk.

The most important thing you can do is get to the dentist as soon as possible; getting the tooth reinserted within 30 minutes will provide the best chance for the tooth re-attaching.

Diet

The summer months are a bit of a mixed bag for dietary choices. On the one hand, the abundance of fresh fruit means you have a healthier choice on hand when that sugar craving hits. On the other hand, picnics, Christmas festivities and fun events like festivals lend themselves more towards ice cream, chips and fizzy drinks.

Foods high in sugar such as the more obvious lollies, biscuits and cakes and the less obvious chips, dried fruits and even fresh bananas, can produce high levels of bacteria which if not removed correctly, can lead to tooth decay.

Focus on crunchy, water-heavy foods such as apples or carrots, which balance out the sugars with water and also promote the flow of saliva, which helps to buffer acid and wash away food particles. And obviously, what could be more water-heavy than water itself? Drinking water is always the best choice over sugary juice or soda, especially to keep you hydrated on a hot summer day.

1Dentalcare, Sports-Related Dental Injuries and Sports Dentistry.