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Micheal Gazori, DDS
Summer and Kid's Dental Health
Little Pearls Dentistry for Children

Summer and Kid's Dental Health

Summer is a time of sports, parks, camps, and activities for kids. Its unfortunately a time when kids can be at greater risk for developing dental problems.

Injury prevention
Research shows most oral injuries occur when athletes are not wearing mouth protection. Mouth guards are vital for protection of the teeth, lips, cheeks, and tongue. Studies also suggest protection against concussions. We usually think of football and hockey as the most dangerous to the teeth, but nearly half of sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball.

There are a number of options to choose from in mouth guards. First “boil-to-fit” mouth guards are found in sports stores. Different brands vary in terms of comfort, protection, and cost. Second, customized mouth guards are provided through your childs dentist. They cost a bit more, but are more comfortable and more effective in preventing injuries. Choose a mouth guard that your child can wear comfortably. One that feels bulky or interferes with speech will be left in the locker room.

Dehydration and cavities
Some parents and coaches feel the best way to combat dehydration and to boost energy is with sports drinks, sodas, and bottled drinks such as fruit punch and lemonade. Recent studies have demonstrated the risks these drinks pose to dental health. These drinks have excessive amounts of sugar and are very acidic, with pH levels ranging from 2.5 to 4. Although diet sodas have less sugar content, they are still acidic and have the potential to cause tooth damage called erosion, a condition whereby enamel starts to dissolve. Enamel starts to dissolve at pH levels less than 5.5.

The best thing for kids to drink to replenish their fluids is water. Try to avoid sugary drinks or limit their consumption to meal times. Finish them right away since longer exposure puts teeth at greater risk for cavities. Select cans over re-sealable bottles. This limits the consumption to one sitting rather than sipping bottles and re-sealing them over a longer period of time. If possible, have your children rinse with water after consuming the sugary beverage.

For younger kids fill sippy cups with water only. If you do provide sugary drinks instruct your children to finish them quickly. Take away the cup after a reasonable amount of time.

Drinking soft drinks and other beverages through a properly positioned straw can help to minimize the risk of cavities. “Your best option is to sip soft drinks and other beverages through a straw positioned towards the back of the mouth,” advises Mohamed A. Bassiouny, DMD, MSc, PhD. “Doing so will limit the amount of time the beverage is in contact with the teeth.”

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