Regular dental hygiene is important, but there are other factors that can affect your oral health. In fact, your dental health is quite complex, and is closely associated with your general health. The good news is that often small changes can make a real difference to your dental health. We’ve listed a few simple tips that are easy to follow.
Make Smarter Snack Choices
Some foods that are marketed as being healthy will often contain high levels of hidden sugars. It is obvious that if you eat lots of candies or cookies then your risk of tooth decay will increase but choosing a granola or protein bar or a pack of raisins isn’t a great option.
Although granola and energy bars can have healthy ingredients, they often contain a lot of hidden sugar. What is worse is that they can be quite sticky and will adhere to your teeth for longer, increasing the damage to your pearly whites. Raisins or any form of dried fruit present the same problem as the drying process concentrates the sugar content, and dried fruit is very sticky and difficult to remove thoroughly from teeth.
Instead, read food labels and familiarize yourself with some of the most common names for sugar. If sugar is listed in the first few ingredients, then it might be wise to save this food for an occasional treat. Generally, it is better to eat whole fruit in its natural form (fruit juices are also very high in sugars). Choose snacks that are healthier for your teeth, for example, natural yogurts, cheese and crunchy fruits and veggies, or dips such as hummus. This approach will help to reduce the risk of acid erosion.
Become More Aware of Acid Erosion
Acid erosion is an everyday threat to your teeth. Whenever you eat something high in carbohydrates and sugars, bacteria in your mouth use the leftover food particles for energy, producing acid as a by-product and which weakens your tooth enamel. After eating, your mouth is more acidic for at least half an hour afterward. The effect can be prolonged when these foods are sticky and are less easily washed away by saliva. Some foods are naturally acidic, for example, citrus fruits, white wine and tomatoes. Over time, continual exposure to these acids will erode your tooth enamel.
Obviously, it isn’t possible or even desirable to cut out all acidic or carbohydrate-rich foods, but it can be helpful to eat them as part of a main meal rather than as a snack. This will limit the length of time your teeth are exposed to harmful acids. Once you have finished eating, rinse your mouth with plain water as this will help the acidity levels to normalize more quickly. Alternatively, reach for the cheese plate because cheese helps to disrupt the bacteria that create acids and contains calcium which will help to protect your teeth.
Change Your Toothbrush Regularly
Did you know you need to change your toothbrush every two or three months, or sooner if the bristles look worn and splayed? Damp toothbrush bristles also harbor bacteria, which is why it’s a good idea to change your toothbrush after having a cold or virus. When choosing a new toothbrush, opt for a head with softer bristles and make sure it is small enough to fit right to the back of your mouth, so you can easily clean all your teeth. Harder toothbrush bristles will not clean your teeth more effectively and brushing too hard can damage your teeth and gums. Effective toothbrushing is all about good technique, so please ask us if you would like some practical help and advice!
Don’t be Stingy with Your Dental Floss
One common mistake is to break off a short length of dental floss when ideally you need about eighteen inches of floss. This will ensure each tooth can be cleaned with a fresh section of floss as otherwise you will move plaque and food particles from one tooth to another. To make flossing easier, wind most of the floss around your middle finger, winding the other end around your other middle finger. This way you can just ‘wind on’ the dental floss as you methodically clean your teeth, using your thumbs and forefingers to manipulate the floss. If you struggle with flossing, then please ask us for help and advice. Once you know how then flossing is easy, and it will help you to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Protect Your Dental and General Health with Regular checkups and Cleanings
Your routine checkups and cleanings are vital if you want to have good dental health. This preventative approach is also easier, quicker and more cost-effective in the longer term than waiting for problems to develop. During your checkups, we will carefully monitor your dental health and especially your gums, so if we do see any changes, these can quickly be addressed.
Why You Need Healthy Gums
Your gum health is particularly important and most adults in the United States will develop some form of gum disease during their lifetime. This disease frequently causes few symptoms in its early stages. Gum disease is generally caused by poor oral hygiene, allowing bacteria to build up over your teeth and gum surfaces, causing infection and inflammation. One of the most common signs is bleeding gums as the gum tissues become more inflamed. If caught early enough, gum disease is reversible, but if left untreated it can progress into periodontitis, where the structures around your teeth are gradually destroyed, including bone. Periodontitis can cause tooth loss and may affect your general health. The bacteria that cause gum disease can enter your bloodstream through your bleeding gums.
Unfortunately, numerous clinical studies have linked these bacteria with serious systemic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. Periodontitis can worsen any existing systemic diseases or might increase your risk of developing health problems. For example, diabetes increase glucose in saliva, allowing these bacteria to thrive which increases the risk of gum disease. Once these bacteria enter the bloodstream they can create more inflammation in the body, making it harder for diabetics to control blood sugar levels.
The good news is that with proper dental care and by becoming more aware of your dental health, you can maintain healthy teeth and gums, protecting your general health. Here at Evolve Dental Care, we think this is something to smile about.