Summer is in full swing and for many that means travel (near and far), barbecues, outdoor activities and plenty of sun! But while you’re soaking up every ray of sunshine and milking the summer months for all they’re worth, are you taking extra steps to keep your oral health in tip-top shape? Along with the many pleasures the season can bring, there are some additional things to consider when it comes to keeping your mouth safe and healthy.
Summer is one of the best seasons to get your body moving and participate in more outdoor activities (read: sports and other games), but this also means an increased risk for a chipped or broken tooth. Make sure you or your little ones are protecting those pearly whites! While you can easily purchase a mouth guard at your local sports store, the more comfortable and effective option is to ask your dentist to make a custom guard that will fit you just right. Many dentists can even customize them with fun colors and patterns! And while broken teeth can be mended almost as good as new these days, it’s best to spare yourself the painful emergency visit and invest in some protection.
That custom mouth guard will also come in handy during another summer staple as well: Swimming. Chances are good you plan to hit the pool for a much-needed cool down, but did you know that chlorine can damage your teeth? Frequent swimming in highly chlorinated pools can eventually lead to worn tooth enamel (we hope those Olympic swimmers got the memo!). Avoid letting chlorinated water sit in your mouth and if you opt for the mouth guard, it can be a great way to protect your teeth from chlorine-related erosion.
And while we know you’re making sure to cover up with plenty of sunscreen, don’t forget your lips! Dr. Kevin Postol, DDS, reminds us that the outer layer of your lips is much more delicate than the rest of your skin and contains almost no melanin, the pigment in skin that naturally helps screen out the sun’s harmful rays. Our lips get tons of sun exposure in the summer and are rarely protected. And aside from the cosmetic reasons (fine lines and wrinkles), side effects can be serious.
An estimated 3,500 new cases of skin cancer on the lips are diagnosed every year and many others develop actinic cheilitis, also known as farmer’s lip or sailor’s lip. This condition forms after chronic sun exposure and is characterized by persistent dryness and cracking, leading to precancerous lesions and extensive wrinkling. The best way to protect your lips is to use natural lip care products containing sunscreen. You should always apply 30 minutes before going into the sun, and reapply often while you are exposed. If you are headed for the pool or the beach, make sure to find a product that is water-resistant and to reapply as soon as you get out of the water.
So, take extra care of your beautiful teeth this summer (did we mention to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated?). After all, how else will you enjoy deliciously sweet summer corn or flash a winning smile?