Everyone these days wants a brighter, whiter smile, but we need to spare a thought about the health of our teeth too. Whiter teeth does not necessarily mean that our teeth and gums are healthy. So to help you on your journey to a healthier mouth, Dr Giulia D’Anna, Founder iDental shares her top 10 tips.
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1. Avoid sticky foods.
For dental decay to take place, we need bacteria and sugar in our mouth. The bacteria converts the sugar into acid. Sticky foods generally have a high sugar content, and they hang around in our mouth for a long time after we finish enjoying them. This means that our teeth are bathed in sugar for hours. Something most people don’t think of is dried fruit, which generally contains 70-80% sugar, and is also sticky.
2. Drink plenty of water.
And by water, I mean plain tap water. Tap water has fluoride in it, which has been proven to reduce the level of decay in teeth. Soft drinks obviously are loaded with sugar, but another hidden surprise for most people is that they are usually quite acidic. Actually any kind of drink that is carbonated (that is, has bubbles), has a low pH. This includes soda water and mineral water too. Acid on the teeth can cause erosion.
3.Clean between your teeth.
Brushing your teeth and rinsing does not remove bacteria or plaque from between your teeth. Two-thirds of all decay happens between teeth, and gum inflammation also usually starts there too. Although brushing and rinsing can reduce the amount of bacterial growth in the mouth, they will do almost nothing to the area between your teeth. By flossing, you will almost completely eliminate bad breath as this is caused by bacteria producing sulphur-gases. And if that doesn’t convince you enough, people with gum disease have two to three times the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular event.
4.Brush for two minutes.
If you have ever timed yourself brushing your teeth, I bet you were shocked by how little time you spend. In fact most people brush for less than thirty seconds. Get a system in place. Use an egg timer or your phone to time yourself. Spend thirty seconds on the upper outer surfaces, thirty on the upper inner surfaces, and then another thirty seconds on the lower inner and outer surfaces too. You will do a great job spending more time on your teeth. There are also some great toothpastes on the market that come with an LED light these days that help to highlight where you have missed by glowing bright yellow. Life-changing!
5.Cheese and dairy is healing.
Cheese neutralizes the acid in most soft drinks and wine, making the acid less tooth-damaging. Cheese contains casein and whey protein, which helps to reduce acid erosion in your enamel. If you’re a wine drinker, be sure to pair that glass with a cheese plate, as these proteins can help counteract wine’s acidity.
6.Fresh fruit is best.
Fruit is a great source of vitamin C, which is a building block for Collagen. Collagen is present in our skin, gum tissue and also in the bones surrounding the teeth. Fruit is great at helping to curb sweet tooth habits. Some great choices include blueberries, avocados, currants and bananas.
7.Eat on schedule.
One of the worst things you can do for your teeth is to slowly graze all day. Every time you snack on a sugary meal, the bacteria in your mouth will work to increase the acidity of your mouth. That acid can attack the enamel causing tooth decay and increasing your risk of dental disease. It is better to have a bigger one-off snack, than lots of little ones through the day.
8.Use scissors or a corkscrew.
Our teeth are a one-shot deal. Once we damage them, they cannot repair. Tearing packets open or pulling corks out with our teeth puts intense pressure on them. After repeated sessions of this pressure, the teeth or fillings can crack. I have seen this happen to many of my patients, and repair is not always easy or possible.
9.Don’t chew on ice.
Many people habitually chew on ice, especially during summer. Being hard, ice can crack teeth, but it can also be an indicator of a serious health condition. Chewing on ice has the medical term of “Pica”, and describes the condition where a person craves chewing on an item of no nutritional value. Compulsive ice chewing is being reported as a symptom of anaemia, particularly iron deficiency anaemia. So it might be wise to get your health checked by your GP.
10. See your dentist twice a year.
Regular checks and cleans help detect small problems before they become big ones. Most dental problems do not hurt until they are serious, and that usually means lots of dental work and a large bill to go with it.
So be good to your mouth and keep it healthy. The relationship between your oral health and your overall health is huge. Good oral hygiene every day is an investment in yourself, in more ways than just a healthy mouth.