A healthy smile is the first step towards a healthy body. In fact, research shows that good oral hygiene may actually prevent certain diseases from occurring. Moreover, we only get one set of adult teeth, so it is of utmost importance that we take care of them every day. Daily brushing and flossing, along with periodic dental visits, are imperative, but sometimes a busy schedule may interrupt these routines. While you cannot take a vacation from oral hygiene, there are some habits you can develop to protect your teeth and gums every day.
Most people think that the sugar in soda is sole culprit of tooth decay. While the sugar is not ideal, the acidity is actually much worse. While a neutral pH value is 7.0, Coke has a pH of 2.5, and diet sodas are also quite acidic with an average pH of 3.2. The acidity of these beverages eats away the enamel of your teeth, causing tooth decay. Moreover, fruit juices are also acidic with varying levels of pH, depending on the type of juice. Not quite as bad are coffee and tea which both have an average pH of about 5.0. Your best bet is to trade in your sodas, juices, coffee, and tea for water which has an almost neutral pH level. In fact, rinsing your teeth by drinking water after eating any food is good oral hygiene.
Even if you are a busy person, you need to remember to eat healthy foods to maintain good oral hygiene. Foods rich in vitamin D and calcium are particularly important for strong teeth. You can choose milk, yogurt, cheese, and other lowfat dairy products as well as broccoli, spinach, kale, soybeans, and some fish such as salmon and sardines. In addition, foods rich in B-complex vitamins can help protect the gums from cracking and bleeding. These may include: berries, legumes, dark green vegetables, lean meats, avocados, and whole grains. While getting nutrients directly from the foods you eat is the ideal, taking supplements may substitute when necessary.
Tobacco products are bad for your teeth and mouth in so many ways. First, smoking reduces the amount of oxygen to the blood vessels of the gums, causing dental plaque and gum disease. Gum disease is one of the most common causes of tooth loss. Second, the tobacco and smoking produce bad breath and can lead to oral cancer. Finally, many smokers try to mask the “smoker’s breath” by eating hard candies and breath mints. The sugars in these items can lead to further tooth decay. Simple avoidance of any smoking is an easy way to promote good oral hygiene.
While brushing and flossing are essential for good oral hygiene, mouthwash can also be a part of the regimen. Not all mouthwashes are created equally though, and some are better than others. For example, Listerine and its generic equivalents and mouthwashes containing chlorine dioxide are the best options. These mouthwashes actually kill bacteria and help you maintain good breath and strong teeth. If you are on the go and absolutely cannot brush after a meal, rinsing with one of these mouthwashes may be a good temporary alternative. Do not, however, use mouthwashes as a total substitute for brushing and flossing as it will not be enough.
It is important to remember that our teeth were not meant to be tools. Tooth damage can occur when teeth are used on non-food items. Many times, people want to use their teeth to open a plastic bag or even bite off their fingernails. This can easily lead to a chipped tooth or other, even worse, damage to your mouth. One way to protect your teeth is to invest in a small multi-tool that can attach to your key ring. This way, you always have a tool available to open a plastic bag or trim your nails and will not have to resort to damaging your teeth.
When you are traveling or simply feel like you are not home long enough to brush and floss your teeth, take along a travel toothbrush, some flossers, and a miniature tube of toothpaste. These are usually quite small, and they are easy to tote along in a purse or travel case. You can protect these brushes with toothbrush caps or cases and/or zipper bags. You can also find disposable toothbrushes and tooth wipes for those times when you may not have access to drinkable water. Taking along your own bottled water may work in some situations and is a good idea when you travel to places where there is no access to water or the water is not drinkable. The water can be used for brushing or at least rinsing your mouth.
Sugarless gum is sweetened by non-sugar alternatives such as aspartame, sorbitol, and mannitol. These gums are endorsed by the American Dental Association (ADA) as being helpful for your oral hygiene. In fact, chewing sugarless gum can improve your breath and clean your teeth. It increases the amount of saliva in your mouth which helps to rinse the food in your mouth thereby reducing plaque acid, strengthening teeth, and reducing tooth decay. In addition, another non-sugar sweetener, xylitol is used to make gum which actually keeps a neutral pH in your mouth and keeps the bacteria from sticking to your teeth.
Nothing can totally replace daily tooth brushing and flossing. Periodic professional cleanings are still essential. Nonetheless, following a few simple routines will keep your mouth healthier, so you can sport the beautiful smile you want. In the end, this will reduce your dental bills and increase your comfort and confidence.