Keeping your teeth healthy means more than just brushing and flossing. In addition to your usual routine of brushing for two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between your teeth once a day, here are a few more things to consider in order to care for your teeth!
Be Mindful of Hidden Acid
Acidic foods and drinks contribute to the wear of your tooth enamel. As your enamel deteriorates, the tiny pores on the surface of your teeth are exposed and become vulnerable to bacteria. When bacteria settles in these pores, it eventually leads to cavities and tooth decay.
Most drinks that come in a plastic bottle are highly acidic, including sodas, sports drinks, and even bottled water. When you drink these, you are essentially bathing your teeth in acid. This, in combination with the high sugar content, creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow.
Prolonged exposure to citric acid also has the potential to damage teeth. Whenever consuming foods high in citric acid, such as oranges or clementines, be sure to drink water (preferably not bottled water) soon after. This will flush the acid off the surface of your teeth. It’s not recommended to brush your teeth too soon after consuming acidic foods and drink because your teeth may be in a compromised state and brushing at that time could actually contribute to the loss of enamel.
By drinking water throughout the day, you improve your dental and overall health. As I already said, rinsing the mouth with water after eating washes away acid, but it also helps to dislodge food particles that bacteria like to feed on.
Drinking water also prevents dry mouth and strengthens teeth. Since saliva is 99% water, it’s important to stay hydrated to keep saliva production steady. Saliva naturally cleans, protects, and strengthens teeth, and a decrease in saliva can lead to chronic bad breath and tooth decay.
In addition, many communities have added fluoride to their tap water. Fluoride is great for your oral health because it bonds to the surface of teeth and helps to strengthen and rebuild enamel.
Check on Your Diet
While it’s obvious that your diet affects your health, it also affects the health of your mouth. A diet full of sugary, acidic, and processed foods contributes to periodontal (gum) disease and tooth decay. These conditions are directly caused by excess bacteria in the mouth, which thrives when you give it lots of starchy and sugary foods to chow down on.
A diet full of fruits, veggies, and other whole foods is great for a healthy mouth because these foods are high in vitamins and minerals and require lots of chewing, which stimulates saliva production. Also, be sure to incorporate calcium into your diet regularly by taking supplements, consuming dairy, or eating spinach or collard greens.
I’ve saved the most obvious for last. Tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, are horrible for the health of your mouth. Even if you are “just a social smoker,” you’re doing damage to your teeth and gums (not to mention your heart and lungs) with every puff.
By cutting out sugary, acidic beverages, staying hydrated, eating healthy foods, and staying away from tobacco, you’re well on your way to a healthier mouth. It’s easy to care for your teeth when you follow these five simple steps. Now, that’s something to smile about!