Ahhh, summer. Time for pool parties, BBQs, bonfires under the stars, and…
…re-evaluating your child’s oral health routine!
Of course, summer brings with it an abundance of sun and plenty of fun. It also brings an increase in outdoor activities and sugary beverages that can put your child’s oral health at risk. In fact, nearly 30 percent of parents say summer vacation is the most difficult time to get their children to keep up good oral health, according to Delta Dental. That’s why summer is the perfect mid-year checkpoint for re-evaluating your household’s current dental routine and adjusting as necessary for seasonal influences.
Below, we’ve compiled the top summertime threats to your child’s oral health. Read on to learn how you can combat these risks for a sunny smile all summer long!
Top Summertime Threats to Kids’ Oral Health
1.Sugary Foods & Carbonated Drinks
Popsicles, lemonade, ice cream sandwiches and sugary soda are all staples of the “summer diet.” As satisfying as these treats are on a hot summer day, they can wreak havoc on your child’s teeth. Sugary foods and carbonated beverages are one of the primary causes of cavities and decay.
Tip: Stock your pantry and fridge with healthy, tasty snacks that are easy to grab-and-go. Examples include apple slices and cheese, celery sticks with peanut butter and frozen banana slices.
Dehydration is the result of of too much summer heat and a lack of quality fluids. Most people understand the dangers of dehydration to the body, but did you know that dehydration is also harmful to your teeth? Our teeth and gums depend on saliva to help keep them healthy; a dry mouth creates the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.
Tip: Emphasize to your children the importance of staying hydrated, especially during physical activity. Pack a water bottle or two anytime you leave the house, because a source of water is not always guaranteed while on-the-go.
3. Outdoor Sports
Outdoor sports and activities are a given during the summer months. This is the time of year when children flock to playgrounds, sports parks and ball fields. An increase in physical activity outdoors, though, also increases the potential for accidents and injury.
Tip: We recommend always wearing a mouthguard when participating in outdoor activities—even if the activity doesn’t involve any physical contact. Mouthguards can protect teeth from accidentally being knocked out by a flailing elbow or fly ball. Your dental professionals here at Excel Dental in Ozark can help select a mouthguard with the perfect fit for your child.
It’s simply not summer without a day at the pool. Fun at the pool can quickly turn into an emergency, though, when a slip on wet concrete results in a cracked, broken or lost tooth.
Tip: Discuss proper pool safety with your kids to avoid injuries that could compromise their oral health.
5. Later Bedtimes
Daily schedules often go awry during the activity-filled months of summer; kids tend to sleep in and stay up later. When normal AM and PM routines are thrown off, kids often forget to brush their teeth twice a day—or at all.
Tip: Post a daily brushing chart in your home as a fun reminder to brush and floss twice daily. For every week of successful brushing and flossing, reward your kiddos to a special outing or healthy treat.
Don’t forget about your child’s lips! The skin on our lips is very sensitive to hazardous UV rays, which can burn the lips with extended, unprotected exposure.
Tip: Use a lip balm with SPF 15 or higher and apply liberally after every hour in the sun. Keep the balm close at hand this summer so you’re prepared for every afternoon baseball game, day at the pool or outdoor birthday party!
More Hot Summer Tips
Replace your family’s toothbrushes. Toothbrushes should be replaced approximately every three months. Replace your entire family’s toothbrushes during summer break and once again when back-to-school rolls around. Seasonal changes serve as a great reminder for dental health!
Schedule a dental checkup. Take advantage of when your child won’t have to miss school for their dental check-up. At your child’s appointment, a cleaning and cavity check will be performed along with an evaluation of overall oral health. At Excel Dental, we’ll also take the opportunity to educate your child on the importance of good brushing and flossing habits.
Smile on This Summer
Keep smiles shining this summer! Make an appointment for your child with Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews at Excel Dental. Find us in Ozark, Missouri—just a short 10 minute drive from Springfield.
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Healthy gums play an important role in your overall health. In fact, many leading experts agree there is a strong link between gum inflammation and chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and respiratory illness. Gingival recession—also known as “receding gums”— is one condition that can lead to inflammation in the form of irritated, lost gum tissue and tooth root exposure. Not only that, but receding gums play a role in the aesthetic of your smile. A receding gum line creates greater exposure of each tooth, which creates an elongated look. This can lead to feelings of self-consciousness for many people.
Gum recession can be largely asymptomatic in its earliest stages, making it difficult to self-diagnose. That’s why it’s paramount to understand the symptoms, causes and prevention tips for keeping your gums in tip-top shape.
You may have gingival recession if you notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Sensitive teeth (especially to hot or cold temperatures)
- Visible roots
- Longer-looking teeth
- Bad breath caused by plaque buildup and/or decay on the exposed area of the tooth
- Red, inflamed gum tissue around your teeth
- Bleeding gums
Healthy gums fit around each of your teeth like a cuff. When gum tissue starts to recede, however, it pulls away from the tooth and can eventually leave the root exposed. Unlike the crowns of your teeth, the roots don’t have that same protective enamel coating. The root is therefore more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures and at a higher risk for decay. According to the American Dental Association, the most common causes of receding gums include:
- Clenching or grinding your teeth
- Brushing your teeth too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush
- Poor oral hygiene
- Smoking and/or using any type of tobacco
- Periodontal (gum) disease
- Genetics—some people are born with gums that are more thin or weak than normal
Treatment & Prevention
When it comes to gingival recession, treatment and future prevention are key for ensuring overall health.
If you are diagnosed with gingival recession by your local dentist, the treatment you’ll receive will depend on the degree of progression. Your dentists at Excel Dental, Drs. Davis and Matthews, will first determine the cause of the problem that triggered your recession and recommend a treatment plan from there.
First and foremost: Regular dental check-ups with your local Ozark, MO dentist are imperative for helping to prevent gum recession and assess risk factors. Your dentist may then recommend a treatment plan that includes all or some of the following:
- Recommendation for a softer toothbrush and gentler brushing technique. This won’t repair your existing damage, but it will prevent new damage to the gums.
- Wearing a clear plastic retainer at night to circumvent jaw clenching and grinding.
- A professional dental cleaning to rid debris and bacteria within the gum pockets.
- Scaling and root planing, or a “deeper cleaning,” if it’s determined your gum recession is caused by periodontal disease. Scaling and root planing removes bacteria, plaque within the periodontal pocket and the biofilm and calculus attached to the tooth and root surface. This treatment is especially helpful in allowing gum tissues to heal and reattach to the tooth.
For more advanced gingival recession, gum tissue regeneration and gum grafting may be used to restore natural symmetry to the gums. A graft is when a thin piece of gum tissue is taken from another place in your mouth (or an artifical graft is used) and attached where the gum tissue has receded. The exposed tooth root is then covered once the graft begins to heal. Not only can a graft repair a receding gum line, but it can also improve the aesthetics of your smile.
Q. Do receding gums grow back on their own?
- This is a common myth. There is no way for your gums to grow back on their own; however, with professional treatment and by implementing proper preventative measures, you can stop the progression of your receding gum line.
Q. Can natural treatments, such as essential oils, fix my receding gums?
- “Old wives tales” have circulated in recent years which claim that receding gums can be treated by applying natural oils like lemon, clove, coconut and sesame. There is currently no scientific-based evidence to substantiate these claims. At most, these natural treatments may help alleviate the discomfort which results from gingival recession; however, from a medical standpoint, oils alone are not advised as an effective treatment plan.
Q. Only older adults experience receding gums, right?
- While gum recession is most common in adults over 40, it can begin as early as the teen years. The most common cause of gum recession in children and teens is over-aggressive brushing. Your local Springfield, MO dentist can help educate your child on proper brushing techniques that will preserve his or her smile for years to come.
Get Your Gums Back
Receding gums are more than just an aesthetic nuisance. If you or a family member is experiencing the symptoms of gingival recession, get your gums back by making an appointment with Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews at Excel Dental. We’ll work to diagnose the cause of your receding gums and tailor a treatment plan for your smile. Find us in Ozark, Missouri—a short 10 minute drive from Springfield.
Searching for more advice on this topic? Make sure to check out these related posts from our blog: