Most of us have been taught the value of a healthy smile from the time that we were young. We begin an oral care routine as babies, when our caregivers rub our gums with a soft damp cloth, and later we learn to open wide to have our teeth brushed twice a day when they begin to erupt. These habits are so important for shaping the way we think about oral health and the importance that we place on it throughout our lives. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day is the standard to which most of us are personally accountable to, but what if we could be doing more to keep our teeth healthy? After all, this generation is among the first generation that can expect to keep their natural teeth for the duration of their entire lives! To keep your teeth healthy and strong, consider these tips:
One of the most requested services in a dental clinic these days is tooth whitening. Many patients have had great success with professional peroxide-based bleaches, but it does come with some tradeoffs. First, tooth bleaches have the potential to cause temporary discomfort and this cosmetic service does come at a cost. What if you could prevent the need for tooth whitening altogether?
By limiting stainers such as red wine, coffee, tea and smoke, your teeth are less likely to become stained and what natural staining does occur can be remedied with regular professional cleanings. The deep red of red wine combined with its acidic nature can noticeably stain teeth since the acidic properties attack the enamel of the teeth while the tannins in the wine deposits stains. Staining is particularly evident where tartar has accumulated along the gum line, as the tartar takes on the colour of the wine. Choosing a white wine or another clear beverage with less acidity can benefit your teeth in the long run.
Similarly, coffee and tea can stain the surfaces of your teeth the same way the inside of a tea cup shows staining. Opting for a herbal tea such as peppermint or chamomile will keep staining at bay. If you can’t give up that morning cup of coffee, consider instead drinking an iced coffee with a straw. Drinking through a straw allows staining liquids to bypass the majority of the teeth and promotes a whiter smile.
Finally, we know we don’t have to list the reasons why your body will thank you for cutting the smoking habit out of your life. Removing this habit from your daily lifestyle will eliminate its harsh effects on your systemic health, as well as will keep the staining from tar away from the teeth.
Many of our patients believe that brushing well means brushing aggressively, and we’re here to tell you that isn’t true. In fact, brushing too aggressively can have a negative effect on your smile. Teeth are covered with a very hard layer of enamel, the protective coating that prevents decay and sensitivity. Enamel is a very important part of your tooth health, and we should take good care of it since it does not regenerate once lost.
Brushing teeth too hard can wear down the enamel and push the soft tissues (gums) away from the teeth, leading to exposed dentin which results in pain and sensitivity that is difficult to correct naturally. Gentle circular brushing is all that is needed to effectively sweep away the clear film of plaque that deposits on our teeth between brushings.
Don’t Forget Your Tongue
Of all the places that are often missed during brushing, the tongue may just be the most common. The fact is, the tongue plays a big role in determining how much bacteria is present in the mouth. Brushing the teeth and gums without brushing the tongue means that harmful odor and decay-causing bacteria is left to proliferate in the mouth. Using a tongue scraper or simply brushing the tongue and rinsing well goes a long way to support your oral health. Decreased bacteria means less risk of decay or gingivitis, and can dramatically decrease symptoms of bad breath.
Make Flossing a Priority
If you want the healthiest mouth around, there is no doubt that prioritizing your flossing routine should be top-of-mind. If you let flossing slide away from your routine, you are effectively allowing up to 40% of the tooth surfaces in your mouth go uncleaned. This is because neither brush nor mouthwash can effectively clean between the teeth where plaque bacteria and food debris like to hide. If you need convincing, the smell of your used floss might just do the trick. If the bacteria removed by your floss can produce such an odor, imagine how it can contribute to bad breath and decay! For this reason, we suggest increasing the frequency of your flossing habit. Since carbs and starches contribute to decay and plaque overgrowth just like sugar does, flossing after each meal can go a long way in keeping your smile clean and healthy.