With summer in full swing, you might start craving some of your favorite hot weather treats. What could be better than a fun family barbecue, a trip to the fair, or a refreshing popsicle by the pool? Read on to learn more about how your favorite summer treats can affect your dental health and what you can do to maintain your smile.
Healthy Snack Options
Summer offers a bounty of food options that can improve your overall well-being and enhance your dental health. These include:
- Corn: This plant is at its prime sweetness during the hottest months of the year. It can be delicious when grilled, barbequed, or steamed, either on the cob or off of it. Corn is rich in important compounds that benefit dental health, including phosphorous, magnesium, thiamin, fiber, and vitamin C. Just make sure to floss after enjoying your corn so that it doesn’t remain stuck between your teeth for the rest of the day.
- Salads: crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, fresh cucumbers, and vibrant carrots make up a healthy summer salad. In addition to providing important nutrients and fiber, raw vegetables can naturally scrub debris from your teeth to keep them shiny and clean.
- Fish: Many people enjoy lighter meals during the summer, and fish is an excellent protein option for this purpose. The omega 3 fatty acids in fish can help fight gum disease and benefit your general health.
- Berries: One of the best parts of summer is enjoying sweet, luscious, delectable berries. 1-800-Dentist points out that “ripe, juicy, red strawberries are the perfect snack for self proclaimed ‘sugar addicts’ as the perfect berry will taste better than any candy out there, minus the risks and with vitamins and minerals essential for fueling the human body.” Berries often contain vitamin C, calcium, folate, magnesium, potassium, and even cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Less Than Ideal Summertime Treats
Unfortunately, while they’re tasty, some of our favorite summer foods aren’t the best for our teeth. The barbeque sauce that gives a special zing to your ribs and steaks on the grill can be spicy or acidic, wearing down your enamel. Many people also enjoy sipping on sweet cocktails on vacation or out by the pool, but these sugary beverages can feed decay-causing bacteria. Cold treats like frozen popsicles and ice creams can also coat your mouth in sticky syrup, contributing to dental plaque on your teeth and even beneath your gums. Munching on potato chips or other starchy snacks can also contribute to plaque formation. While they are delectable, we recommend limiting your consumption of these types of summertime treats and remaining especially conscientious about your oral hygiene if you do.
Summer Smile Suggestions
In addition to enjoying healthy summer foods and limiting your consumption of potentially damaging treats, you can take simple, proactive steps to improve your oral hygiene this summer. These include:
- Drinking plenty of water. Especially in summer heat, staying hydrated is very important. Dr. Flanagan and our team recommend swishing your mouth with water after eating to wash away debris and improve your saliva flow.
- Chewing xylitol gum. This artificial sweetener tastes great and can help fight cavity-causing bacteria.
- Setting aside specific snacking times. Munching on sugary, starchy treats throughout the day constantly exposes your teeth to them, raising your risk for decay and other dental issues. Limiting your summer food fun to specific times can help you relish your treats while preserving your smile.
- Brushing and flossing your teeth. You should brush at least twice per day and floss at least once.
- Coming in to our practice for regular cleanings and examinations. Dr. Clark recommends that patients come in at least twice a year for a check-up. Attending these routine visits allows us to catch and treat any oral health conditions before they worsen.
Enjoy Summer Refreshments and a Dazzling Grin
By taking advantage of wholesome summer treats, avoiding certain snacks, and keeping up your oral hygiene regimen, you can appreciate everything the season has to offer while maintaining your smile.