Everyone wants to have perfect teeth, and every year many people resolve to finally put the work into their mouth that they know their mouth deserves. However, all too often these ambitious and well-minded people fall short, either because their goals are too ambitious, or because they are taking on too many resolutions at once. Fortunately, it isn’t necessary to make big changes in behavior to reap big improvements in oral health. Here are some very basic, simple resolutions that will help you to have healthier, cleaner teeth – as well as less pain and fewer trips to the dentist!
Floss Once Daily
This is an old refrain of many dentists, and it remains true as it has been since floss was invented. While daily brushing is certainly a good way to keep teeth clean, no toothbrush has yet been devised that can get into the gaps between teeth and remove plaque, accumulated food, and other undesirable items. A failure to floss is the primary cause of gum disease, as the gums become inflamed due to the presence of foreign objects or invading bacteria. Fortunately, flossing is easier than ever thanks to the invention of floss picks, which are now widely and inexpensively available in most drug stores. Floss picks eliminate the need to wrap the floss around one’s fingers, as well as eliminating the tendency of floss to propel extracted materials onto the bathroom mirror (yuck!). Floss picks are inexpensive and sturdy enough to be used several times before being discarded and can get the job done in seconds. While old-fashioned floss still works, if you’ve been having trouble getting yourself to floss, try using a pick – you may find it much more to your liking.
The health risks of tobacco are now very well documented, but one of the least stated yet most important benefits is the fact that giving up smoking is good for your teeth. Most people are familiar with how extended exposure to tobacco smoke will, over time, turn teeth yellow. However, the damage of smoking extends well beyond just cosmetic damage. Prolonged exposure to tobacco smoke damages the gums, both by poisoning the gums themselves and by drying and heating them. Gums need to remain moist at all times to be healthy and continually exposing them to hot, toxic smoke will kill the most exterior cells, causing the gums to slowly retreat over time. This causes the teeth to have inadequate anchoring and protection and to, ultimately, fall out of the mouth.
Numerous studies have shown that long-term smokers suffer from significantly more gum disease than nonsmokers and that long-term smokers are more likely to lose teeth as they age. This includes the effects of smoking marijuana. Therefore, quitting smoking not only ensures that your teeth won’t turn yellow, it ensures they will stay in your mouth where they belong!
Very few people enjoy going to the dentist, but visiting the dentist regularly (ideally once every six months) is the only way to catch potential dental problems before they get out of hand. This is particularly true when dealing with cavities, receding gums and other slow-burning problems. When caught early, these are usually cheap and easy to solve, and will at most require minor outpatient care. However, when allowed to fester, they can become serious, resulting in the damage or total loss of teeth. Visiting your Las Vegas dentist regularly can help you make sure that all the steps you are taking to keep your teeth healthy are working. The regular teeth cleaning done by dentists will also help to remove particles and other concerns that can’t easily be removed by a toothbrush, as well as infuse the enamel with strengthening agents to make it harder for bacteria to take hold.
Eat a Diet Rich in Fruits and Vegetables
Lastly, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will help keep your teeth clean naturally, by mechanically removing stuck food and other deposits that would serve as breeding grounds for bacteria in the mouth. Fruits and vegetables that are fresh, firm and in need of chewing act like natural toothbrushes, removing undesirable buildup as they move through the mouth. They also have the positive effect of stimulating salivation, which helps to keep the mouth wet and healthy – dry gums can’t fight against bacteria, nor can they wash them away down the throat to be destroyed in the stomach! Shifting to a diet with more fruits and vegetables, especially raw fruits and vegetables, will help the teeth stay clean, as well as be good for your diet overall. It can be difficult during this time of year, so here are some dental tips for the holidays from our dental experts.
Watch Out for Starch
At this point, most people are aware of the danger of too much sugar in the mouth. After all, cavities are caused by bacteria invading the mouth and consuming sugar there, which they convert into an acid which eats away at the tooth enamel. Once the enamel is penetrated, these bacteria move into the hole thus created, and thrive in the interior of the tooth, growing inside and hollowing out the tooth until it disintegrates. It is, therefore, important to keep one’s teeth free of sugar, both by consuming less of it and by brushing regularly. What most people don’t realize is that it isn’t just sugary drinks and candy which present a problem – any source of sugar can cause trouble.
Starch is, in fact, a series of sugars made into a long chain by a plant wishing to store them as energy for later. While starches take longer to break down than sugar and present less of an immediate risk, they also tend to be very sticky, to the point of almost being adhesive. Anyone who’s had to turn to a toothpick to remove a stuck piece of potato chip is well aware of this problem. It is this “stickiness” which gives bacteria food and time to grow, and the same reason you should avoid starchy food in your diet for the sake of your teeth, the same as with soda and candy.