For kids, tweens, even teens, summer may be the worst time for cavities.
It’s summer, everyone’s on vacation mode.
Parental rules ease up, More candy and soda sneak in. At the same time, tooth brushing time decreases. The days may be getting longer, but, with all the summer happenings, teeth brushings now rival Olympic 100 yard dash times.
This combination of more sugar and less time on dental hygiene (brushing and flossing) makes summer the perfect time of year for bacteria, which never goes on vacation, to run amok in our mouths and create tooth decay issues.
And how does it happen? Tooth decay begins with bacteria that live naturally in our mouths. In order to thrive, this bacteria burns sugar. During this process the sugar is converted into acid. And it’s this acid that then eats away at the enamel of our teeth, leading the way to the decay and cavities.
Sugary foods like ice cream, candy and sodas (not to mention sports drinks) all provide fuel for bacteria to grow. And these sugary foods can cause even more havoc if they are also acidic or sticky.
Here are some foods that can easily take advantage of the summertime dental hygiene lull and promote tooth decay:
- Foods with a lot of sugar – like granola bars and sweetened cereals.
- Gummy vitamins (especially when consumed after kids brush their teeth).
- Sticky foods like gummy bears, taffy, skittles or even dried fruits. These sticky foods tend to linger longer on the teeth, providing the bacteria with bonus time to inflict more damage.
- Hard candies – the ones that take a while to work through, such as jolly ranchers, lollipops, even cough drops. These culprits allow the sugar to hang out in the mouth for extra innings.
- Foods that are starchy, such as French fries, pretzels, crackers and white bread. These types of foods can easily lodge between teeth, and get stuck for prolonged periods of time, quickly converting to sugar by pre-digestive saliva. Yum!
- Acidic drinks and foods can eat away at the enamel of teeth. Tomatoes, soda drinks and citrus fruits, or juices, are typical culprits.
- Ice (especially in your sodas!) Chewing ice may create tiny fractures in the teeth that can, over time, harbor even more bacteria that can lead to additional breakage.
So, with this info in mind, it should be a lot easier to keep these sugary foods under control and stay vigilant of dental hygiene, right? Who are we kidding! Bottom line, it’s still summer, and kids will be kids. But if we try to eat well and don’t rush the dental hygiene, we might all have a fighting chance against the cavities this summer. And, just in case, we’ve also put together a list of some healthy foods that can actually help combat tooth decay! It’s always worth a shot sneaking these into the summer diet. Good luck and keep on flossing.
Cavities don’t have to be a part of life. Create a healthy environment in your mouth and take on tooth decay before it leads to cavities. Cavity prevention oral rinses can also help control the bacteria created by acids in your mouth.
P.S. Summer may be a bad time to maintain dental hygiene, but it’s also a great time to schedule your kids for dental exams before the school year starts.