Believe me, I understand. We are already concerned about food’s effects on our bodies as far as calorie intake and saturated fat and sugar content and all sorts of things. Why am I stressing you out more about food?!
Well trust me when I say we have the best of intentions, and remember, a healthy mouth is a healthy body! And fortunately for us, it’s not too much to remember. Certain foods do really terrible things to our teeth, however, there are ways to treat it and prevent it. And there are also foods that are great for our teeth, which we want you to consider when you’re choosing your meals.
The Best Foods
Crunchy Fruits & Vegetables
Raw fruits and vegetables that require a lot of chewing (celery, apples, carrots) and provide a good crunch are great for your teeth because chewing more creates more saliva. Saliva is necessary to fight bad bacteria in your mouth. The more saliva (without the drool) the better. These foods create more saliva.
Not only that, the crunch of the food will also remove leftover food and bacteria left on your teeth and sort of scrub your teeth. Imagine that! A cleaning and a snack!
Eating high fiber foods also creates more saliva, which as we know fights bad bacteria that causes tooth decay and cavities. Fiber is good for your overall health, so eating plenty of it is only going to benefit you. Some yummy high fiber foods include raisins, bananas, oranges, and almonds. You can make a pretty great granola with just those ingredients!
High Calcium Dairy
Milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products are great for your teeth because they have a high source of calcium. Cheese in particular is great because it also generates saliva. If you remember the Does a Body Good ads, then you know that milk and other high calcium foods are good for strong bones. While teeth are not bones, they still need calcium, similar to bones, to help put back minerals your teeth might have lost due to other foods. Including a good amount of calcium in your diet is pertinent to maintaining healthy and strong teeth.
Foods with Fluoride
A good toothpaste has a good amount of fluoride, and this is because fluoride helps fight plaque and tartar. Therefore, consuming food and drinks with fluoride is good for your teeth. Fluoridated drinking water, powdered juices (that don’t contain a lot of sugar), and commercially prepared foods (poultry, seafood) have fluoride in them and are great for your teeth.
The Worst Foods
If you’re going to eat something sweet, first of all, eat it with a meal. Give your other foods a chance to take out the leftover sugars and bacteria created from the processed sugar. Second of all, choose a sweet that doesn’t stay too long in your mouth. Lollipops and caramels are not too good for your teeth as they stick to your teeth and create the perfect environment for bad bacteria that causes cavities and tooth decay. If you do decide to eat these foods, be sure your rinse or floss or even do a quick brushing of the teeth as a precaution. We all will falter sometimes!
Any starchy foods that get stuck in your teeth should mostly be avoided, if we’re being honest. Popcorn just happens to be the biggest culprit. This however can easily be avoided by staying away from the foods or rinsing, flossing, or brushing after having said foods. Another thing you can do is follow it up with a crunchy fruit or vegetable to help take out the leftover food. The most important thing to consider however is to make sure that big chunks of food is not left behind for bacteria to fester in.
Sodas and Other Carbonated Drinks
Of course, we all know how much sugar is in soft drinks which is terrible for your teeth, but as a double whammy, most carbonated drinks contain phosphoric and citric acids. Sugar, acid, and bacteria is the perfect equation for tooth decay, and not only that acids erode tooth enamel. Overall, we want to do our best to stay away from these drinks. Rinsing and brushing after helps a bit, but overall, we mostly want to stay away. Your body will thank you later, trust me!
Too much alcohol dries out your mouth which prevents your mouth from naturally keeping away bad bacteria in your mouth. If you’re having a night out, then it’s important when you get home you brush your teeth and are drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and keep your mouth clean. As well as prevent a hangover!
Having a good oral hygiene doesn’t have to be difficult. The most difficult thing to do, in fact, is getting started on a routine. But that goes with anything. It’s hard to get up in the morning, but the more we do it the more it becomes habit. It’s difficult for us to get to the gym or get some sort of daily exercise. But as we continue to do it everyday, it just becomes routine. In fact, it almost becomes a necessity to include our daily habits in our routines, otherwise we feel unsteady. There are certain things we want to include in our daily routine so that it just becomes habit. An oral hygiene routine needs to become a habit. Research shows that you have to do something consistently for at least 66 days for something to become natural to you. Just a little over two months. And those two months are usually the hardest when starting something new, especially something rigorous (source).
But oral hygiene doesn’t necessarily have to be rigorous. It’s most definitely something you want to start doing in order to build a habit, because you want to have a good, healthy smile. And let’s not forget that one of the most powerful and influential pharaohs of ancient Egypt most likely died due to dental problems. If that’s not motivation enough for you to take care of your teeth, I don’t know what is! Maybe google some gruesome pictures.
But I’m here to help you get started on a regular dental routine so that you can keep a healthy smile. Keep it up for a couple of months and it will just come natural to you.
1. Brush 2-3 times a day
Brushing once you get up in the morning and before you go to bed are ideal. When you get up in the morning, your mouth has not been producing enough saliva, which is a good time for bacteria to start attaching to your teeth. Giving you bad breath and making you prone to cavities. At the end of the day, before you go to bed, that is, you want to brush your teeth again so to get rid of the bits of food your mouth has not completely digested. Food that may have been left between your teeth where bacteria loves to camp out over night. The magic number is two, meaning you want to brush your teeth at least twice a day. You can maybe brush after lunch if you really want to up your routine, but it’s not absolutely necessary all the time. And brushing your teeth any more than that may start causing damage to your enamel.
2. Don’t forget to clean your tongue
The tongue is home to alot of bacteria considering the texture of our tongues is a little more abrasive than our teeth. Think about that next time you see your significant other! It can be the cause to some serious bad breath issues. It’s important you brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper every time you brush your teeth, otherwise your missing a major part of cleaning your mouth.
3. Floss once a day
Flossing once a day is so easy to miss and to so many, it’s even tedious. And it’s understandable. It can be a hassle and some teeth are harder to reach. We try to get out of it by making excuses, but let me assure you that you cannot skip out on flossing once a day. Your toothbrush does not reach all the crevices between your teeth and even below your gumline. Understand, food left in our mouth, even food we cannot see, is food for bacteria. Surely you know that food is being left behind between your teeth. Plaque and tartar tend to build up here because we ignore flossing. This can lead to some serious gum disease. Make it a habit to floss once a day, and it doesn’t matter whether you do it in the morning or at night, as long as you do it.
4. Carry flosser picks
This does not count as your one time a day for flossing. Flosser picks are good for after you’ve eaten something and maybe you have something caught in your teeth. It’s good to carry them around for this purpose. But I also want to point out that after eating certain foods, you may want to use a flosser pick you have handy on you. Such as eating something with a high sugar content or something very acidic. Flossing after eating or drinking such foods will help tremendously. Speaking of which…
5. Limit sugary & acidic foods
We’re not saying this is the cause to your cavities. But we are saying you may want to watch what you eat and the effects these foods will have on your teeth. Sugar, acid, and bacteria in your mouth is the perfect equation for cavities and tooth decay. Limit these types of foods, or at the very least consider brushing your teeth after you consume these foods. For example, if you’re a morning coffee drinker, drink your coffee first and then brush your teeth in the morning. If you’re an afternoon coffee drinker, consider adding a third brushing to your daily routine. Or even more convenient…
6. Consider mouthwash
Using a proper mouthwash after you brush and floss helps quite a bit in keeping a good clean mouth. It can reach some of the spots you may have missed and kills the bacteria. But consider carrying a travel sized bottle on you if you are a coffee or tea drinker. This will definitely help in controlling the bacteria in your mouth that causes cavities and tooth decay.
7. See your dentist
I understand if you haven’t kept up with a good oral hygiene routine, going to the dentist can be the most dreaded time of the year. But if you keep up with a good routine, it doesn’t have to be. Going to the dentist and getting a cleaning twice a year is one of the best things you can do, because the dentist can see things you cannot. Don’t consider going to the dentist to make up for all the flossing you didn’t do. Go to the dentist as a precaution for future issues you cannot necessarily prevent on your own.
Keep up with this routine and I promise you’ll have one of the best smiles around!
With today’s easy access to information and all sorts of “alternative facts” floating around out there, it’s easy to get confused about what’s believable and what should be ignored. In particular, there are plenty of warped “alternative facts” about keeping a good healthy mouth. Let us help you by letting you know which myths need to be ignored immediately!
Myth: White Teeth are Healthy Teeth
A glamorous white smile doesn’t necessarily mean you have healthy teeth. Most people focus on the surface area of the teeth to determine whether they have a healthy smile. But it’s important to know that our teeth is more than just the visible surface area. Some people with the whitest smile have severe issues past the gums or even behind the teeth. They may never floss! It’s not to say that white teeth DOESN’T equal a healthy smile, it’s just to say this is not a determining factor. Not to mention the fact that our teeth will naturally discolor as we age. So, even though you may have shiny pearly whites, you want to make sure you visit the dentist regularly to check between and behind the teeth for any issues as well as keep up with a daily oral hygiene routine that doesn’t just involve brushing (source, source).
Myth: Brushing Bleeding Gums is Bad For You
Admittedly, it can be off putting to see your spitting up some blood when you brush your teeth. You may even notice it as you floss. Too many people assume it’s from brushing too hard and so they choose to take it easy on the brushing or even skip a few brushes and opt for rinsing with mouthwash instead. This is the WRONG thing to do. You want to consider brushing your teeth, because this is the first step to dealing with bleeding gums. If your gums are bleeding, you may have a case of gingivitis or plaque buildup beyond your gumline. It’s important to continue with your brushing routine as well as make an appointment with your dentist, as soon as possible. Another tip when dealing with bleeding gums is instead of rinsing with water, rinse with an antimicrobial mouthwash (source, source).
Myth: Tooth Decay & Cavities is Mainly Caused by Sugar
This is not to say sugar DOESN’T cause cavities and tooth decay, but it is not the MAIN cause. It’s not an issue of staying away from sugar all together, but knowing what to do when consuming more sugar than normal (a party, Thanksgiving, etc.) and keeping up with a daily oral hygiene routine. Bacteria in the mouth needs sugar to survive, so when you consume more sugar, you’re basically feeding the bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria, sugar, and acid all leave to an unhealthy mouth. Instead of completely staying away from sugar, watch your sugar intake and brush your teeth or rinse after consuming sugar. It’s important you understand that it’s not the sugar that is causing your cavities, it’s the lack of oral hygiene (source, source).
Myth: Brushing More Makes Your Teeth Healthier
This doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t be brushing your teeth more, and it also depends on other factors and who you are. Brushing your teeth 2-3 times a day is a pretty good routine to keep up with. Once you start brushing above that, it can maybe start causing damage to your enamel. Plus, if you’re using a more abrasive toothpaste and using a harder toothbrush, you may be doing more damage to your teeth. Keep the brushing to 2-3 times a day with a soft to medium toothbrush. And doing anything out of the ordinary, such as eating something with a lot of processed sugar, can call for a quick brush (source).
Myth: It’s Not Necessary to Visit the Dentist
I’m not just saying this because we’re a Dentist office, I’m saying this because it is the absolute truth! Visiting the dentist is often seen as more of a luxury than a necessity, but that’s a common misconception. Part of keeping up with a good oral hygiene routine is visiting the dentist at twice a year. Your dentist can address a lot of issues you cannot check, such as things happening below the surface, gum disease, and even detecting for oral cancer. Make sure you’re making your appointments and not skipping out on seeing us on a regular basis (source).
There are two kinds of people: those who know exactly what kind of toothpaste they use and NEVER change it and those who go down the oral hygiene aisle and become completely overwhelmed with the choices offered.
Whichever group you fall into, however, you may want to pay attention, because as we get older and as our bodies change, our teeth may need something different. There’s a reason why there are so many choices of toothpaste, and no, it’s not to just drive us completely insane.
Let me ease your stress by giving you this handy guide on choosing the best toothpaste for your teeth. Before we begin however, it’s important to make sure whatever toothpaste you use contains fluoride. “Fluoride is important as it is effective in preventing tooth decay, strengthening enamel, and lowering the risk of cavities” (source).
If you have yellow teeth……chances are you’re trying to whiten them up. First off, you should know that your teeth have been turning yellow for reasons. The most common reasons are probably your eating, drinking, or smoking something that’s staining your teeth. Coffees and teas are pretty big culprits to turning your teeth yellow. We might suggest brushing your teeth after consumption. A general rule, if it’s staining your tongue, it’s probably staining your teeth.
However, if your teeth are already yellows and you’re looking for your pearly whites to be, well, white, then we suggest looking for the toothpastes that have the word WHITE or WHITENING in it, such as Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous White Toothpaste or Rembrandt Deeply White + Peroxide Whitening Toothpaste. These aren’t really bleaching solutions as they are a solution to removing stains from your teeth. We don’t really want to just cover up the stains. We want a toothpaste that will tackle the problem by getting rid of them. Whitening toothpastes usually do the trick (source).
If you have cavities……at this point, you definitely want to come in and see us. And the biggest question we get is if you can reverse a cavity without needing a filling. You can with a rigorous oral hygiene routine and upkeep. But, just so we’re clear, if you have a severe cavity that has not been treated, you need it filled!
But none the less, if you have issues with cavities, choosing a toothpaste that has words such as “prevent & repair,” and you also want to make sure it has a high fluoride content. Fluoride is “a mineral that can fill in these spots and harden the surface of the enamel.” It’s also important you don’t use a tartar-control toothpaste. These toothpastes stops mineral from forming on your teeth. When using these toothpastes, you may not want to rinse. Definitely spit, but if you skip the rinsing, you leave the fluoride in and working overtime on your teeth. We want the good minerals to help with your cavities. Colgate Sensitive Prevent and Repair Toothpaste and Colgate PreviDent 5000 Plus are the types of toothpastes you need, and you may even need a prescription for a high fluoride toothpaste from your dentist (source).
If you have sensitive teeth and/or gums……you might be brushing too hard! Go figure! Many people have the misconception that brushing hard is equivalent to brushing well. But in fact, you could be causing more damage to your teeth and gums,and you might have sensitive teeth now.
However, that’s not always the case. There are many reasons you could have sensitive teeth, and there are toothpastes that can help with that. When shopping for a toothpaste that accommodates to your sensitive teeth, look for “strontium chloride” or “potassium nitrate” ingredients. These desensitize your teeth and gums. Sensodyne products are obviously toothpastes specifically for people with sensitive teeth, and this is a good way to go (source).
If you’re trying to prevent/treat tartar build-up…As previously noted, if you’re trying to treat a cavity and treating tartar buildup as well, you’re not going to get very far. Tartar prevention toothpastes rids the teeth of minerals, which, as we said, includes the cavity fighting mineral, fluoride. Tartar is simply hardened plaque that hasn’t been removed. It’s incredibly difficult to take off, and on top of that, it can be painful when you visit your dentist. Obviously brush your teeth and floss regularly, but use a toothpaste that fights tartar. You still want a good fluoride toothpaste but also find a toothpaste that also contains sodium polymetaphosphate. These two ingredients together attack the tartar. Crest Pro-Health Advanced Active Strengthening toothpaste is a good tartar treating selection (source, source).
If you’re a toddler……then I’m amazed you can read this! Joking aside, if you’re shopping for toothpaste for your toddler you want to look for something that’s not too harsh. You still want the important fluoride ingredient, however, other toothpastes that treat tartar and plaque build up might be too abrasive for your kid’s brand new teeth! Definitely stick to the kids toothpaste, look for fluoride, and maybe even consider the flavor. You want your kid to enjoy brushing their teeth. Make sure you encourage them to spit and only give them a small amount of toothpaste, as too much ingested fluoride is bad for you toddler. Fun Colgate Kids Minions toothpaste contains fluoride and has a fun flavor you kid should love (source).
If you have dentures……your oral hygiene routine changes, but not too much. It’s still important to brush your teeth regularly, but there are some added steps you want to go over with your dentist. Some people with dentures opt for tablets and solutions to clean their dentures. Talk about that with your dentist. If you plan on brushing your dentures, look for a sensitive toothpaste, such as Colgate Sensitive Complete Protection and use a soft bristled toothbrush (source).
Here are some tips on brushing your teeth properly:
If you’ve been on social media the past couple of years, particularly, Pinterest, you may have noticed a few articles suggesting the practice of “Oil Pulling.” With the millennial generation having kids and starting their families comes tips and tricks to: 1. Save Money and 2. Be More Natural/Organic. Just head over to Pinterest and search “Natural Home…” and you’ll find plenty of lists for “Natural Home Remedies,” “Natural Home Cleansers,” “Natural Insect Repellent,” and the list can go on and on.
And I applaud this effort! Reducing the amounts of chemicals in the home is probably the best option, especially when it comes to raising your family and doing our part for the environment.
However, it’s just as important to make informed decisions regarding natural remedies.
Which leads us back to our topic: Oil Pulling. It’s understandable when you want to treat your ailment with natural remedies you read about on Pinterest. Curing a cough by putting onions in your socks is not all that crazy. But it’s backed by science.
Oil Pulling, not so much.
Your oral healthcare is more important than we understand. Or to rephrase, than we want to understand. We skip brushing here and there. Some of us have never even picked up the floss. Some avoid the dentist all together. And worse, yet, they’re replacing these basic daily routines with something that only seems more natural. Oil Pulling is not backed by the American Dental Association, and that’s something that should be taken very seriously.
It’s an old traditional folk remedy practiced primarily in India and southern Asia, in which you take a spoonful of edible oil (coconut, sunflower, etc), and swish it around your mouth for 5-20 minutes, “pulling” it through your teeth. Supposedly, this “pulls” the toxins from you gums which links to the toxins throughout your body.
While your gums are in fact connected to your body, which is why a healthy daily oral hygiene routine is incredibly important, there’s no scientific evidence that shows oil pulling actually “pulls” the toxins from your mouth. And surprisingly enough, or maybe not, there have actually been side effects with this practice.
It’s not up to us to tell you whether or not you should be oil pulling. While there’s no scientific evidence that shows the benefits, there’s also none that shows it doesn’t benefit. But it’s important you stick to the recommended daily routine: brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, maybe rinse once a day, visiting your dentist twice a year. It’s not a rigorous routine, and it’s certainly far easier than swishing around oil in your mouth for 20 minutes at a time.