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Summertime Activities Can Cause Damage To Teeth

PITTSBURGH (CBS) -- From picnics and barbecues to swimming and sunbathing, summer festivities are enough to put a smile on anyone's face.

But chew on this: everything from the type of water you swim in to the seasonal foods you eat, even the shade of lipstick you wear can ruin your pearly whites.

With the lazy-hazy days of summer come hours of swimming in the pool. But did you know that chlorine can cause serious damage to your teeth.

"Chlorine can cause enamel erosion," said Dr. Lana Rozenberg, a dentist.

Chlorine keeps pool water clean by killing bacteria, but dentists say it's highly acidic; and over time, chlorinated pool water can severely soften your teeth.

"When the teeth are softer they are prone to tooth decay," said Dr. Rozenberg.

That's not all. Dentists say we do more damage to our teeth during the summer months than any other time of the year.

"We've seen patients with a lot of soft enamel and a lot of staining," said Dr. Jennifer Jablow, a dentist.

Dr. Jablow says another big summer tooth-decay culprit is seasonal drinks like lemonade, ice tea and your favorite sports drinks.

"They're preserved with something called citric acid," she said.

Studies show some seasonal drinks contain three times the amount of citric acid than most sodas, something patient Andy Wyss found out the hard way.

"My teeth were sensitive and I had a little stains here and there," Wyss said.

A recent visit to his dentist and Wyss found out his high consumption of sports drinks was eroding his teeth.

"When somebody is drinking a lot of sports drinks, hopefully they drink them quickly, they dilute them with water and they cut down on them, they're not drinking them all day long," said Dr. Jablow.

Other summer favorites that can erode away at your smile are citrus fruits, certain salad dressings and white wine.

"One way to combat white wine is cheese, cheese is high in calcium and what it does is counteract the effects of wine by refilling the calcium ions and combat the acidity of the drink," said Dr. Rozenberg.

Dr. Rozenberg says never brush your teeth immediately after drinking or eating something highly acidic because it can cause even more damage.

"The teeth are softer at that point so what you want to do is wait an hour before you brush," she said.

Finally, be careful which summer shade of lipstick you choose. Coral and peach tones can make your teeth appear more yellow.

As for Wyss, he's now using a new, heavily-fluoridated toothpaste to help restore the enamel on his teeth.

By the way, experts say that salt water from the ocean is actually very good for your teeth.

American Dental Association
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