Posted in Flossing, Fluoride, Gum Disease/ Gingivitis, Prevention, Toothbrushes, Toothpastes

Ultimate Guide To Healthy Teeth

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Not only will a radiant smile make you look younger, a healthy mouth is also a good indicator of overall well-being. Every day, it seems like another new study links oral health problems to other big health issues such as heart disease, premature birth, and erectile dysfunction. Of course, taking care of your chompers starts with daily brushing and flossing and regular dentist checkups—something not all of us are diligent about. About 13.5% of adults admit to never flossing, according to one report, and about 25% of adults ages 35 to 59 have untreated tooth decay. But there are plenty of simple habits you can practice and foods you can eat to protect your pearly whites for a prettier, healthier smile.

Why is dental care important?
Oral health habits are much more than skin-deep: Studies find a link between poor oral hygiene and major health issues. Failing to take care of your teeth may set you up for a range of serious medical issues such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and even infertility. Researchers aren’t exactly sure of why this might be, but one theory is that harmful bacteria from your mouth enters your blood stream and triggers disease-causing inflammation.

What can I do to protect my teeth?
Good oral care can help you avoid tooth loss, painful gums or other problems. Here are some helpful things you can do:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day.
  • Don’t smoke or chew tobacco.
  • Ask your doctor if your medicines have side effects that might damage your teeth. (For example, some medicines may cause you to have a dry mouth.)
  • Look inside your mouth regularly for sores that don’t heal, irritated gums or other changes.
  • See your dentist one to two times a year.

Another tip for protecting your teeth is to sip with a straw. Most sodas, sports drinks, and juices contain acids, such as citric and phosphoric, that can erode dental enamel—even if they’re diet or sugar-free versions. Sipping acidic drinks through a straw positioned toward the back of your mouth limits their contact with your teeth and helps preserve the enamel, says a study in the British Dental Journal.

Lastly, use good oral hygiene as an excuse to pucker up: Although you enjoy a kiss for other reasons, it also increases saliva in your mouth, which cleans your teeth of the bacteria that can cause cavities, according to Anne Murray, DDS, a spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. But don’t sweat it if you have no one to kiss. Sugar-free gum with xylitol will also do the trick.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?
Even if you brush your teeth daily, you may still have dangerous bacteria growing inside your mouth. This unhealthy bacteria can lead to periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease that comes with symptoms such as bleeding when you brush and gum pain. This chronic bacterial infection is nasty! Untreated, it can destroy your gums and the bones that support your teeth, and eventually force you to have teeth removed. Be aware of these warning signs from the American Academy of Periodontology:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Pus between your gums and teeth
  • Sores in your mouth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

 

Are there any natural remedies for treating or preventing gum disease?
Start with a solid home routine. Use a Waterpik or similar device to massage your gums, because that increases circulation. If you smoke, quit—it impairs blood flow to your gums. You might also try making a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide (mixed to the consistency of toothpaste) and applying it to the gums to kill germs and remove plaque.

As for toothpaste, go for natural varieties that contain tea tree oil or neem, a substance from a tree native to India. Both are antibacterial; neem also prevents tooth decay. Another way to protect your gums is to stress less. According to a Brazilian analysis of 14 past studies, stressed-out people have a higher risk of periodontal disease. Chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol may impair the immune system and allow bacteria to invade the gums, say researchers. If you’re working long hours and eating dinner at your desk, keep a toothbrush on hand. And “protect your mouth by exercising and sleeping more, which will help lower stress,” says Preston Miller, DDS, past president of the American Academy of Periodontology.

Which vitamins and minerals help fight gum disease?
Upping your C intake might be beneficial. “Vitamin C is the cement that holds all of your cells together, so just as it’s vital for your skin, it’s important for the health of your gum tissue,” says Paula Shannon-Jones, DDS, FAGD, past president of the Academy of General Dentristy. People who consumed less than 60 mg per day of C (8 ounces of orange juice or one orange contains more than 80 mg) were 25% more likely to have gum disease than people who took in 180 mg or more, according to a study of over 12,000 US adults conducted at the State University of New York University at Buffalo.

Also aim to get 800 mg of calcium a day: People who do are less likely to develop severe gum disease, says a recent study by the Buffalo researchers. The reason: About 99% of the calcium in your body is in your bones and teeth. Dietary calcium—available in foods like cheese, milk, and yogurt—strengthens the alveolar bone in the jaw, which helps hold your teeth in place. The recommended amount is 1,000 mg per day for women younger than 50 and 1,200 mg for those older.

 

Which foods are best for my pearly whites?
Crunchy foods, including apples, celery, and carrots, act like little toothbrushes when you chew them, and they actually help scrub away stubborn stains over time. The cleansing effect on your teeth may be noticeable—if ever so slightly—especially if you’re a coffee drinker who wasn’t eating apples every day to begin with. “The mildly acidic nature and astringent quality of apples, combined with their rough, fiber-rich flesh, makes them the ideal food for cleansing and brightening teeth,” explains Jeff Golub-Evans, DDS, founding president of the New York Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

Also try swapping your morning java for tea. Black and green teas contain polyphenols, antioxidant plant compounds that prevent plaque from adhering to your teeth and help reduce your chances of developing cavities and gum disease. “Tea also has potential for reducing bad breath because it inhibits the growth of the bacteria that cause the odor,” explains Christine D. Wu, PhD, associate dean for research at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, who has conducted several studies on tea and oral health and dental care. Many teas also contain fluoride (from the leaves and the water it’s steeped in), which helps protect tooth enamel from decay and promotes healthy teeth.

Are there any foods that I should avoid to keep my teeth healthy?
A handful of potato chips or even a whole wheat roll can be just as damaging to your teeth and gums as a chocolate chip cookie. All carbohydrates break down into simple sugars, which are ultimately converted by bacteria in the mouth into plaque, a sticky residue that is the primary cause of gum disease and cavities. Carb-based foods such as breads and crackers tend to have “a chewy, adhesive texture,” making it easier for them to get caught between teeth or under the gum line, where bacteria can then accumulate, says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Have carbs at mealtimes rather than as a snack: When you eat a larger amount of food, you produce more saliva, which helps wash food particles away.

How can I whiten my smile?
A brighter smile makes people perceive you as younger, according to an American Academy of Dentistry study. So take advantage of these affordable innovations.

With Snug-Fitting Bleach Trays: Wear the bleaching agent hydrogen peroxide in place to boost lightening; wear 60 minutes a day for 2 weeks.

Can whitening hurt my teeth?
Although some people worry that professional teeth whitening will damage their enamel, research suggests that their fears are unfounded. Studies have shown that it’s safe to undergo a course of bleaching—2 weeks with a drugstore method or a dentist-prescribed night guard, or a single in-office power-bleaching session—once or twice a year. But dentists are less confident about the safety of using the chemicals as simply another part of the morning shower-shave-brush grooming routine. In addition to tooth sensitivity, dentists report seeing side effects that include gum irritation, bluish enamel, uneven whiteness, and—if the chemical manages to seep into a cracked tooth or an unfilled cavity—painful internal damage that can lead to a root canal. Except for that last one, side effects of teeth whitening products usually clear up within a couple of weeks, provided you stop using the chemicals.

 

 

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An online healthy lifestyle blog from a dental point of view - Advice on how to live a healthy lifeSMILE :)