Oral hygiene done simply.
Did you know that there are more actions you can take to keep your teeth healthy beyond daily brushing and flossing? While you should definitely stick to your daily oral hygiene routine and visit your dentist twice annually, adding other oral health habits can help you increase your smile’s overall health and radiance. Here are 10 easy ways you can take better care of your teeth, starting today.
1. Rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking.
Some foods and drinks can be particularly tough on our teeth. While acidic foods and drinks—such as citrus—temporarily weaken tooth enamel, sticky foods and drinks—such as sugar, soda, milk, hard candies, and bread—are not easily washed away by saliva alone.
Though brushing soon after you eat is a great way to reduce plaque and remove sticky foods and drinks, brushing immediately after consuming acidic foods or drinks can actually damage your enamel. To help reduce sugars, starches, and acids on your teeth, rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking.
2. Eat foods rich in calcium and phosphorus.
In addition to supporting strong bones, heart health, muscle contractions, and nerve function, foods rich in calcium and phosphorus can help remineralize your tooth enamel. Calcium-rich foods include cheese, seeds, almonds, and leafy greens, while phosphorus-rich foods include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, and whole grains.
3. Snack on crunchy fruits and veggies.
You already know that eating fruits and vegetables every day is essential for healthy living and disease prevention. But did you know that crunching away on fruits and veggies, like apples, pears, celery, carrots, and cucumbers, can actually disrupt dental plaque, increase saliva production, and clear out dental bacteria? To support your oral and overall health, try swapping out starchy, sugary snacks for a fruit or veggie that takes some chewing.
4. Limit starchy or sugary snacks and drinks.
Your body isn’t the only thing that gets fed when you eat. In the first 30 minutes after you eat or drink something besides water, the bacteria in your mouth snack on the sugars and starches left on your teeth, producing the acid byproduct that causes cavities. The more often you eat or drink between meals, the more opportunities the bacteria in your mouth have to flourish. If you do have a snack or go out for a happy hour drink, don’t stress. Rinse your mouth with water—and drink some while you’re at it!
5. Stay hydrated.
In addition to rinsing sugars, starches, and acids from your teeth, water also keeps you and your mouth hydrated. Saliva, which is 98%water, helps prevent tooth decay by washing away food and bacteria from your mouth and teeth. Saliva also contains important substances, such as antibacterial compounds, which help ward off tooth decay. When you’re dehydrated, saliva production decreases, which causes dry mouth (xerostomia) and bad breath (halitosis), while also increasing your risk for cavities.
6. Chew sugarless gum.
Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes, especially after eating, can increase salivary flow, clear away the acidic byproduct that is produced by oral bacteria, and help prevent tooth decay. Increased salivary flow also helps deliver more calcium and phosphorus to your teeth, strengthening your tooth enamel.
7. Treat snoring and sleep apnea.
Snoring disrupts more than your—or your partner’s—sleep. In addition to causing stress, daytime drowsiness, and morning headaches, snoring equals mouth-breathing, which causes inadequate salivary flow and a dry mouth while you sleep. Saliva cleans and buffers the soft and hard tissues in your mouth, giving you the upper hand against the oral bacteria that cause tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, infections, and mouth sores. Without it, you’re at a higher risk for experiencing unpleasant oral health symptoms and disease.
Snoring can also be indicative of sleep apnea, a condition that causes you to momentarily stop breathing while you sleep. Sleep apnea means your body isn’t getting enough oxygen, which negatively impacts every system of your body and places you at higher risk for serious health complications, including stroke and heart disease.
Many people reclaim a good night’s sleep and better breathing by using a discreet, portable, and custom-made dental appliance that repositions the tongue or mandible (lower jawbone). Your dentist can help you determine if a dental appliance can help you reduce or eliminate snoring and get the restful sleep you (and your partner) deserve and need.
8. Wear a night guard.
Grinding and clenching your teeth (known as bruxism) can wreak havoc on your jaws and teeth. In addition to causing tooth pain, sore jaws, and tension headaches, grinding or clenching your teeth can cause your teeth and dental restorations to chip, crack, or break. Wearing a custom-made night guard can alleviate uncomfortable symptoms while protecting your teeth and restorations from further damage.
9. Try oil pulling.
While swishing a tablespoon of coconut or sesame oil around your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes may sound bizarre or unappealing, this time-tested Indian tradition can be a useful addition to your oral hygiene routine. Research has demonstrated that oil pulling can reduce the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth, reduce inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), and keep bad breath at bay. To add oil pulling to your routine, try swishing oil around your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes during your shower or while you’re washing dishes, without swallowing. Once finished, spit the oil into a lined trash can and rinse your mouth with water.
10. Pick up a reusable straw.
Though you may feel slightly ridiculous for sipping coffee or red wine from a straw, your teeth will appreciate the change. Drinking from a straw reduces the amount of contact staining beverages have with your teeth, which can help prevent discoloration and keep your teeth bright and clean. Reusable straws are durable and environmentally friendly. Stash one in your purse, briefcase, office, or gym bag, or pick up a colorful set for serving up iced tea or coffee for summer guests.
The health of your mouth and teeth are often a reflection of your daily habits and choices. With increased awareness and a few easy tweaks, you can make choices that prevent issues and boost your oral health every day. To treat your teeth to a thorough preventative exam and professional cleaning, contact our office to schedule an appointment.