Now that hot weather is here, the time is right for barbecues, swimming, and cooling off with some warm weather treats. Popsicles, smoothies, and other sugary confections are fun parts of long summer days. Unfortunately, these treats can quickly do the teeth more harm than good, especially if you aren’t being careful about keeping up with proper oral care. Here are a few summer treats to skip, and some better options to consider.

Popsicles and Shaved Ice

Before you grab that flavored popsicle or head to the local shaved ice shack, it’s important to understand how these chilly snacks could be harmful to the teeth. Both are often loaded with sugars, whether through-and-through or covered in sugary syrup. This sugar eats away at the outer layer of tooth enamel, encourages bacteria growth, and can easily lead to cavities. In addition, biting or chewing on icy things could lead to chipped teeth to severe pain from cold sensitivity.

There are plenty of cold sweet treats that wreak less havoc on the teeth. Reach for a bowl of fresh fruit straight out of the refrigerator, which can help satisfy your craving for something sweet with a little natural sugar, and the cold will help satisfy your craving for something cool on a hot summer day.

Ice Cream

What’s more fun than going to the ice cream shop on a warm summer day? Like popsicles and shaved ice, ice cream is also loaded with sugar and can cause sensitivity and pain from both the sugar and cold temperatures. People in the U.S. already consume two to three times the amount of sugar recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA)—kids consume on average 32 teaspoons (tsp) per day, adults consume 22 tsp, and the AHA recommends no more than 9.5 tsp, so adding a daily ice cream treat might be increasing sugar intake to potentially harmful levels.

Instead, try buying sugar-free or low-sugar ice cream, and skip the toppings like caramel or syrup. If you do indulge a little in ice cream, try to eat it immediately following a regular meal, since the extra saliva in your mouth can help rinse the sugar from your teeth. Another smart choice is to brush your teeth within about 10 minutes to remove any lingering sugar.

Sodas and Sports Drinks

In the warm weather months, many kids and adults participate in sports teams and outdoor activities. Sports drinks can seem like the obvious choice after a long workout or intense game to help rehydrate, but keep in mind that these drinks can be full of sugar. They’re especially rough on the teeth straight from the bottle because the liquid comes in direct contact with the teeth. Many sodas also have the added problem of high acid levels that eat away at tooth enamel.

Instead of sugary sports drinks and sodas, reach for water to quench that thirst. If you do decide to drink a soda or a sports drink, drink through a straw to limit tooth exposure as much as possible. Also try to drink soda only during meal times, rather than sipping on it throughout the day and extending the time your teeth are exposed.

What to Feed Kids

Without the structure of a school day, kids might be spending a lot more time snacking throughout the day. To keep the sugar intake at a minimum, have some healthy snacks ready:

  • Protein-filled snacks like nuts, cheese, and turkey
  • Vegetables like celery and carrot sticks
  • Fruits like apple or orange slices, bananas, berries, and grapes
  • Plenty of cold water—add some fresh lemons, limes, mint, or cucumbers to the water to enhance the flavor

For more tips about teeth-friendly snacking, talk to a dentist today. If you don’t have a dentist, make an appointment with Roseman Dental for affordable and patient-centered dental care.