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Summer fun can leave behind more than grass stains

Published: Thursday, July 3, 2014 1:51 p.m. CDT

Going out to dinner with family, whether it’s at barbecues or at nice restaurant, is one of the great things about summer. People have more time off, and so, of course we tend to eat out more often.  Just remember that when you’re out and considering what to drink with your meal, making bad choices can really impact your dental health.

Don't bring home any soda. Trust me, with all the graduation parties, barbecues, picnics and other special events throughout the summer, they'll get more than their fair share of the stuff.

Consider avoiding things like soft drinks and dark red wines. Both tend to have a staining effect on teeth and are rather acidic. Sometimes that staining is superficial and can be removed as soon as you brush, other times it tends to settle in and can only be removed with whitening. Sticking with lighter colored and less acidic drinks will reduce your risk of cavities significantly.
When you have the chance, consider using a sugar substitute rather than the real thing.
Xylitol is a sugar substitute that has the amazing effect of starving out the cavity causing bacteria in your mouth, and it tastes great! Just make sure the product you buy is 100 percent xylitol, and not a mixture of other substitutes.
If your little ones enjoy the cool sweet treat of a snow cone or a slushie drink, remember that they are chock full of food coloring, another detriment to a healthy mouth.
A good idea is to rinse with water right after such a treat. Regardless of the time of year, adequate water throughout the day is essential to stay healthy, and to clean out any loose carbohydrates left in their mouths after snacking.

Even better, brush your teeth as soon as you can to avoid the food coloring lingering on the tooth enamel. And speaking of brushing, make sure that your kids are still following their morning and evening routines when it comes to oral hygiene. Just because they may wake up right before lunch or run around late into the night, with no school the next day, doesn't mean they get to skip brushing their teeth.

Summer is filled with fun and frivolity, so enjoy it all, just make sure to keep taking care of your teeth, or you won’t be smiling as bright come autumn.
Saqib H. Mohajir DMD, FADIA
Dr. Mohajir is a member of the American Dental Association, Illinois State Dental Society, Chicago Dental Society and is a Fellow of the American Dental Implant Association. He maintains a private practice in Lemont, Illinois.

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