So many of us are already geared to spending the long summer months in Dubai due to the global pandemic that has gripped the world. This may be a blessing as we can truly enjoy what this fabulous city has to offer, but of course, not at the expense of our health! Here I will try to summarise the main things to look out for this summer in order to remain healthy and safe.

1.  Sun exposure

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One of the main benefits of living in Dubai is year round sunny weather, and although this is a blessing, it can also be a dangerous thing. Harmful UV rays from too much sun exposure has been directly linked to skin cancer.

Cancer of the lip is the most common malignant tumour affecting the head and neck. Its appearance is similar to that of skin cancer. Incidence rates range from approximately 13.5 per 100 000 people in Oceania, to 12 per 100 000 in Europe and 12.7 per 100 000 in North America.

The signs are usually a sore, lesion, blister, ulcer, or lump on the mouth that doesn’t go away. This could be accompanied by bleeding or swelling of the lips and even of the jaw when the lesion is advanced. You may even experience tingling, pain or numbness of the lips or the skin around the mouth

Lip cancer can affect both upper and lower lips but recent studies show that it is more common in the lower lip.

To ensure you stay safe you need to make sure you use good sun block protection not only on your face (make sure the block is safe for the face) but also your lips (and of course neck, and ears etc). Make sure you use a high factor block and apply liberally and regularly.

We also need to try and avoid certain lifestyle factors that predispose to these tumours such as smoking and tobacco chewing, excessive alcohol intake and prolonged exposure to sunlight or tanning machines.

2.  Summer is here and it's time for Ice Cream right?

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Well yes, during these hot summer months we do tend to indulge in all sorts of edible treats but we must make sure that we do this in moderation. Don’t forget that most ice lollies and chilled treats are very rich in sugar which causes cavities, so having a treat every now and again is fine as long as we are careful and brush afterwards, but don’t over indulge!

It’s also useful to use a straw when drinking sweet drinks as this will reduce the effect of the sugar (and acidity of the drink) on the teeth as the straw helps bypass the teeth and hence reduce the time your tooth is exposed to such damaging drinks.

3. Ice in my drink, yes please!

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Ice in itself is not harmful to the teeth, however a large proportion of people tend to break the ice with their teeth. This leads to unnecessary stress on our fragile pearly whites, and can cause small fractures or cracks, which can then propagate and cause further problems down the line.

Ice cold drinks can also lead to pain in people who already have sensitive teeth, and if this happens you should switch to a toothpaste that is specifically constructed to reduce the effects of sensitivity. If you face more specific sensitivity problems then it may be time to see your dentist as there may be other issues at stake.

4. Swimming pools are open! Yay!

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Swimming is nearly everyone’s favourite pastime in the summer months. It is a healthy way to unwind and relax and ensure the heat doesn’t get to you. When visiting Swimming pools please ensure you have used adequate sun protection (see my note above), and ensure we drink those Mojitos with a straw!

When you are in the pool, relaxing under the water, the last thing that comes in your mind is your teeth. Most swimming pools purify their water by adding chlorine. As much as it helps to make the pool water safe for people, chlorine can have severe, long-lasting effects on the teeth. The chlorine when dissolved in the water becomes an acid which often reacts with tooth enamel and causes erosion of the tooth surface.

The effects of chlorine may not be immediate, but over time, chlorine can severely affect the strength, and health of your teeth and can lead to increased sensitivity. If you are spending too much time inside the pool, make sure to rinse your mouth with clean drinking water, followed by tooth brushing after a few minutes. Rinsing the mouth will wash away the acids from the tooth surface and brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste will help to strengthen the enamel by remineralising it.

Dry mouth is also a common problem among swimmers so make sure to keep yourself well hydrated.

It would be beneficial if you could try to keep your mouth closed for as long as possible, while you are inside the pool. This will reduce the contact of chlorinated water with the tooth surface.

Some form of guard for your teeth would also be recommended if you are a professional swimmer, or spend prolonged periods of time in the pool.

5. Stay Hydrated!

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We must try to ensure that we stay hydrated during these hot months not only for the sake of our overall health, but also to ensure we do not suffer with a dry mouth. Saliva is our body’s protective armour against many of the oral cavity problems including decay, so suffering with a dry mouth can lead to problems such as decay, salivary stones, and even mucosa (mouth skin) lesions. Please make sure to stay safe and keep yourself hydrated especially in the summer.

Always remember your dentist is here to give advice and help, so if you have any concerns, make an appointment and see your dentist who will ensure you stay healthy and safe this summer.

Dr. Marwan Al-Obeidi
Medical Director/ General Dentist