Whether you just want to hibernate through the hot season or you look forward to it all year, its definitely a time when the usual rules are relaxed. That’s great – you should squeeze every bit of enjoyment out of summer – but there are a few things that you still should do even in the laziest months of the year to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
During the sweltering heat of summer, chomping on a cube of ice can seem like a really excellent idea. Don’t do it. Chewing ice can cause cracked and chipped teeth, damage to tooth enamel, problems with existing dental work such as fillings and crowns, and sore jaw muscles. You may also find your teeth become extremely sensitive to hot and cold drinks and foods, and are more prone to cavities.
But what about eating crushed ice (Shave Ice in Hawaii, Italian Ice in New York City, Water Ice in Philly, Raspa in Texas, Granita to the Sicilians among us, Slushies, Snow Cones and Snowballs to everyone else). Surely that’s ok? Well, sort of. Finely crushed ice is less damaging that crunchy cubes, but that sugary syrup can accelerate tooth decay. Indulge infrequently, and find healthier choices for heat-beating snacks.
Speaking of icy treats, do your teeth seem to scream when you eat cold foods like ice cream? Sensitive teeth can also react badly to very hot or acidic foods and drinks. There are many reasons why this happens, but it can indicate that your dental enamel is damaged, or that you may have plaque buildup in your mouth, tooth decay or gum disease.
There are a number of treatments your dentist can offer that may reduce tooth sensitivity. You may need a professional cleaning; dental plaque is acidic and that increases tooth sensitivity. Removing the plaque reduces inflammation and allows for the gum tissues to heal. Be aware though that treatment may result in increased sensitivity for a few weeks. For other issues, your dentist may need to treat gum disease or decay in your mouth, or may advise applying a thin barrier (sealant) to your teeth to reduce sensitivity.
You, or your dentist, may be travelling this summer, so make sure you have a plan in place to deal with any dental emergencies. Ask your dentist about his or her summer schedule, and who to contact if you need emergency care. If you’re going to be out of town for a while, you might want to ask your dentist who he or she recommends in the area you’ll be travelling in. If you have a dental savings plan, you can visit any dentist who is in your plan’s network. Some dental insurance plans may require you to get approval from your primary provider before you can see another dentist.
And since summer usually means more outdoor activity, you might also want to review what to do in the case of a dental emergency, such as a cracked, broken or chipped tooth.
Some state school districts require kids to get a dental screening every three years, others don’t stipulate how often a checkup is needed. Even if your state doesn’t require a checkup, you should still take your child to the dentist regularly. An estimated 51 million school hours per year are lost because of dental-related illness. Dental problems can make it harder for kids to learn, make friends, feel confident, and decrease their chances for success later in life.
You may be tempted to wait until right before school starts, but the best time to get the kids (and you!) into the dentist for a checkup is now. Don’t wait until your dentist’s schedule starts filling up with pre-school checkup appointments. And if treatment is needed, it’s best to get it done now rather than right before school reopens. Plus, you get to relax and enjoy those last days of vacation rather than running to the dentist for a checkup.
Think your budget doesn’t allow for dental care? Good news: dental savings plans ae more affordable than dental insurance and can save you an average of 10%-60% on dental care. Visit dentalplans.com now to find a plan that can save you money on checkups and cleanings, and reduce the costs of virtually all your other dental care.