Along with genetic factors, your oral health heavily depends on your lifestyle and daily habits. Ignoring simple rules of oral hygiene can lead to a variety of dental problems in the future such as tooth decay, gum disease, infection, bone loss, etc. Below we provide you with some tips to help you prevent dental complications and maintain your oral and overall health.
Nutrition: You Are What You Eat
The products you choose and how often you eat them affect your general health and the health of your teeth and gums. If you eat many sugar-containing foods and beverages or non-nutritious snacks, you are susceptible to tooth decay. The most usual sources of sugar in the diet include soft drinks, candies, cookies and pastries. When plaque contacts with sugar in the mouth, this makes acidic agents attack your teeth, resulting in tooth decay. If your diet is poor in some nutrients, this may have a bad impact on your tissues, making them difficult to regenerate and resist infections. Studies proved that teeth and gum diseases progress faster in patients with poor nutrition.
What Foods to Avoid:
- Sugar-containing Foods
Reduce or eliminate the consumption of sugary beverages and foods, as sugar provokes bacteria growth. Almost all food contains sugar in some form and if you cut all sugar from your diet, you may be lack of some important nutrients. So, try to abandon food with added sugars, including glucose or honey. Be careful when choosing sugarless food, as it often contains other natural sweeteners (honey, can or rice syrup, fructose) that can be as harmful to your teeth as sugar. Diet or sugar-free soda contains acidic agents that do a lot of damage, if drunk on regular basis.
- Acidic Foods
Citrus fruits, juices, tomatoes, red wine increase the level of acid in your mouth and in the course of time can lead to enamel damage. Moreover, citric juices can irritate mouth sores. It is impossible to avoid all acid foods in your diet, just try to not eat it all day long. Rinsing your mouth or taking a sugar-free gum stimulate saliva and help wash away acid.
- Sticky Foods
Sticky foods are the craftiest: even if you rinse or brush your mouth, the sticky particles can be left on your teeth. Not only toffee or gummy bears are your teeth enemies, but also many other products that sound healthy, such as dried fruit or trail mix. To minimize harm of sticky food, consume it during the main meal when a lot of saliva is exuding. The worst choice is eating sticky products as a part of your snacks without having a possibility to clean the mouth after that.
- Low Nutrients Foods
In our crazy life, most people are looking for a quick and simple food. That is why, fast food services with its casual atmosphere, low prices and tasty meals are so popular. If you have occasional junk foods, it won’t be a big deal. But, if low-nutrient unhealthy food constitutes the largest part of your daily diet, your oral health can suffer. Your body needs a balanced diet of minerals and vitamins. Otherwise, your immune system becomes sick and not able to resist any infection, which, in the worst case scenario, may lead to serious periodontal problems and tooth decay.
- Oversized Food
It may seem ridiculous, but the size of food you eat can cause severe dental problems, such as temporomandibular joint dysfunction. For example, super-sized hamburgers make you open the mouth wider than it means to. Try to eat food that is less than 4-5 cm in height or cut it into smaller pieces.
- Hard Foods
Chewing on hard products can damage your teeth or tooth enamel. Moreover, if you bite wrong or with excessive pressure, hard foods can chip your teeth. That is why, we recommend you quitting the habit of chewing ice, choose water in its liquid state instead. Hard candies and cough drops are also very harmful: they slowly dissolve and give bacteria more time to produce acid elements.
- Alcohol and Staining Beverages
Limiting or exclusion of alcohol from your daily diet will help struggle with dehydration and dry mouth. People who drink much alcohol experience less saliva flow and are more vulnerable to tooth decay and oral infections. Coffee, tea, wine, juices and other colored soft beverages discolor your teeth. Limit their consumption or, at least, rinse your mouth after each drink. Water, milk and green tee without sugar will be better choices for your teeth.
What Foods to Choose?
While some foods are bad for your teeth, do you know that others are good for them? Learn what diet is best to maintain your healthy smile:
The Benefits of Calcium
Calcium helps build strong teeth and bones as well as prevent dental diseases. A calcium-rich diet reduces the risk of tooth decay development, while a low-calcium diet makes your body consume it from teeth and bones. Foods that contain calcium help protect tooth enamel. It is recommendable to consume more of the following calcium- and phosphorous-rich products on a daily basis:
- Almonds and brazil nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Red meat
Food Rich in Vitamin C
A sufficient consumption of vitamin C prevents gum diseases, as it helps body repair tissue and struggle against infection. A daily diet rich in fruits and vegetables is a powerful means of dental defense. It is not only because of vitamins. When you crunch and chew vegetables or fruits, you help wipe bacteria off your teeth. Without enough vitamin C in your diet, your gums become more sensitive and susceptible to bacteria and potential periodontal diseases. The following foods are rich in vitamin C:
- Bell pepper
- Lemons and oranges
Foods Rich in Vitamin D
Vitamin D is very important for proper functioning of your body, including healthy teeth. The main reason is because it helps absorb calcium. Best sources of vitamin D are:
- Vitamin D tablets or liquids (especially in children under 3 years)
- Egg yolk
- Cod liver oil
Foods that Help Clean Your Mouth
Some hard crunchy foods can be useful for your mouth. The process of chewing produces saliva which serves as a natural neutralizer of bacteria. These foods provide a gentle scrubbing and help remove plaque and food particles. Best foods choices include:
- Raw spinach
- Other leafy greens
Oral Hygiene: Better Is the Enemy of Good
The main aim of regular home dental care is to struggle against the plaque and debris accumulation around your teeth and gums. A full set of dental tools is available in any drugstore to help you clean your teeth at home: toothbrushes, inter-dental cleaners, waxed and unwaxed floss, irrigators and mouth rinses. They are not costly, and, for sure, they are much cheaper than unexpected visits to your dentist. Depending on your situation and your dentist’s advice, choose proper tools to include in your daily cleaning routine. Pay attention to the ADA (American Dental Association) seal when purchase dental products of any kind.
Simple Rules of Daily Oral Hygiene:
- Dental health begins with clean teeth. Brush your teeth at least 2 times a day – in the morning and in the evening during 2-3 minutes, spending an equal amount of time in each part of your mouth. Don’t rush: take time to clean your mouth thoroughly, brush all surfaces of your teeth and a tongue. Using a combination of a soft-bristled toothbrush and electric toothbrush helps remove more plaque.
- Between the meals or after drinking colored beverages, rinse your mouth with warm water or a mouthwash, use a sugar-free gum.
- Flossing is advised at least once a day or after each meal, especially after meat or corn. Be gentle and follow the curves of your teeth to avoid damaging your gums. If you find it difficult to handle floss in some areas, keep it up by using a dental pick, pre-threaded flosser or a water flosser.
- Never use your teeth as tools in order to open a plastic package or uncap a bottle. These actions can chip your teeth. Keep necessary tools such as scissors or bottle-opener handy for the dirty work.
Overcaring Your Teeth
While brushing your teeth on a regular basis is very important, you can brush so much that you harm yourself. Overbrushing may result in sensitive teeth and receding gums. Here are the most common situations to avoid:
- Brushing Too Hard
Many people think that the more intensively they brush, the cleaner their teeth are. Indeed, brushing too hard may cause enamel erosion. Try to brush your teeth gently in wide strokes, providing circular brushing motion on each of your teeth. Never scrub, use a toothbrush with soft bristles.
- Brushing Too Much
Rigorous tooth brushing after each meal can be harmful to your teeth enamel. It is better brush your teeth normally twice a day and choose lightly brushing or rinsing after lunch or sugary snacks.
- Brushing Right after You Eat Acid Foods
At first sight, this is a good intention. However, doing so can cause the absorption of acidic agents in combination with tooth enamel damage. Better type of preventive care will be rinsing your mouth with warm water or, at least, chewing a sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva and wash away acid.
Probably, all of us have bad habits, but some of them are more destructive for your oral health than others. By recognizing them, you can try to make your lifestyle a bit healthier. Even such simple things as purchasing a soft brush or bringing a bottle of water with you could make a difference on your oral health. Enjoy your favorite food, but remember that moderation is a key. Choose water over other beverages, make rinsing the mouth after each meal a part of your routine, and don’t forget about regular flossing and brushing. At Elite Dentistry of Simi Valley we would love to go over oral health habits with you.