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!
Nothing ruins a date, a doctor’s visit, or even a simple conversation like bad breath. There’s nothing more awkward than to be on either the receiving or giving end of bad breath. I once had a teacher in college who had awful breath. I was only a freshmen, so faculty intimidated me like none other, so most of us endured his breath. Long story short, I taught myself calculus that semester!
The scientific term for bad breath is halitosis. Most everybody will experience bad breath in their life, particularly of the morning variety. Some bad breath causes are more severe than others, and most causes of bad breath can be treated. Bad breath happens naturally when an influx of bacteria is not being broken down in our mouths.
The cause of bad breath can be a number of things, but here are the six most common cause of bad breath.
Most everybody experiences morning breath. The reason being is because the lack of saliva production when we sleep.
We produce more saliva during the day and when we eat. The enzymes found in saliva “are essential in beginning the process of digestion of dietary starches and fats. These enzymes also play a role in breaking down food particles entrapped within dental crevices” (source).
So when our mouths are not producing saliva, our mouths get dry, making it a perfect environment for bacteria to make way, which then causes bad breath. Hence, morning breath.
You might be a little more of a mouth breather, which tends to dry out your mouth. If you do breath with your mouth, you might have more issues with bad breath.
You Haven’t Eaten
When we don’t eat, we don’t produce saliva. This goes hand in hand with dry mouth. This specifically is sometimes referred to as “Hunger Breath.” It’s not that hunger is making your breath smell. It’s the fact that you’re not producing regular saliva. When you’re not producing saliva, bacteria gathers more easily, and thusly it produces that sulfuric bad breath smell we all hate so much.
We’ve got morning breath, hunger breath, and now let me introduce you to “Smoker’s Breath.” Smoker’s breath is a little more specific and has more factors than just dry mouth. Although dry mouth still plays a part, considering inhaling that smoke tends to dry out your mouth, which as we know is a big factor for halitosis.
But more specifically, “the most immediate way that cigarettes cause bad breath is by leaving smoke particles in the throat and lungs. This effect is typical of nearly any tobacco product that involves inhaling smoke or rolling it around in the mouth. The smell of a freshly smoked cigarette can linger in the lungs for hours” (source).
Being sick can cause bad breath for a variety of reasons. First of all, when we’re sick (allergies or a cold), our bodies have produced too much mucus. When we’re sleeping and our mucus is draining, some of us might experience something called “post-nasal drip” which is mucus collecting in the back of your throat. A very uncomfortable feeling, but in regards to your breath, the mucus collection in the back of your throat is a great food source for bacteria that causes bad breath. I know how much we want to stay in bed when we’re sick, but it’s important to brush your teeth, floss, and rinse with mouthwash when we’re sick to rid ourselves of unnecessary bacteria (source).
Strep throat can also cause some serious bad breath. Strep is a bacterial infection, and as you know bacteria is the culprit of bad breath.
Not only that, some medications, especially antihistamines, diuretics, antipsychotics, and muscle relaxants, cause dry mouth. Dry mouth is, as we know, bad breath.
Bad breath might be caused by a cavity or two in your mouth. If you have a cavity that has not been treated, chances are you’re collecting more bacteria. Getting a cavity is caused by plaque buildup. If you build up too much plaque it starts to eat away at your tooth, which causes it to decay, or give you a cavity. That cavity is already caused by bacteria which causes bad breath, but on top of that, your daily oral hygiene routine is not getting the bacteria rid of the bacteria that is in the cavity. Thusly, that cavity and the bacteria collecting in it might be the cause to your bad breath. It’s important to get your cavities treated, and even more important, prevent them from happening (source)!
Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Alcohol is a little different when it comes to bad breath. When we consume a copious amount of alcohol, our bodies treat it as a toxin. We start to break it down to a less harmful substance. Most of it will be converted into acetic acid, but some of it is released through our sweat and our respiratory system. If you’ve ever had a hangover, that’s the reason you’re sweating so much. But, when it comes to bad breath, some of the toxins are leaving through our breath. Literal toxic breath! Also, the smell can come from our stomach processing the alcohol and making us burp a very unpleasant smell (source).
All of us will experience bad breath at some point, but at least now you know the cause, which will allow you to treat it a little more effectively. Get some water in you. Eat a regular diet. Quit your smoking. Cut back on the drinking. And have a happy health mouth!
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!