It’s National Dental Hygiene Month

Posted 10/14/2015 | By HealthCorps

You are never too young or too old to take care of your teeth. Poor oral health is associated with a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, and it can also cause loss of teeth, disability, and contribute to low self-esteem. What are the basic foundations for good teeth and gum care? Avoiding foods that have significant levels of sugar, drinking plenty of water, not smoking, and brushing your teeth and flossing twice a day can all help to keep teeth and gums healthy.

Plaque is a sticky colorless film that can adhere to your teeth. When it’s exposed to sugar, plaque produces acids that can wear away your tooth enamel. Saliva actually helps to re-mineralize teeth, protecting teeth from decay, and that’s why having a dry mouth is considered a risk factor for tooth decay. A cavity forms in your tooth when decay progresses and actually causes a hole in the enamel of the tooth. Gingivitis is gum disease and the first sign is usually bleeding gums when you brush your teeth. Some people are more prone to cavities and gum disease, possibly due to genetic factors. Soft drinks contain sugar which can instigate cavities, and phosphoric acid, which interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Two good reasons to lose the soda and sweet drink habit!!

Some good habits in addition to brushing and flossing twice a day:

• Chew sugarless gum for about ten minutes after snacks and meals, which will help to promote saliva and prevent cavities.
• Crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, pears, celery and carrots are good in-between-meal snacks, helping to promote saliva and protect teeth. The fiber in fruit also helps to balance the natural sugars they contain.
• Dairy foods are also good for your teeth, since they contain calcium which helps to strengthen teeth.
• Lean proteins, rich in phosphorus, like poultry, fish, eggs and (1% or fat free) milk can strengthen and protect tooth enamel.
• Nuts are rich in proteins which help to strengthen your teeth, and chewing nuts stimulates saliva.
• Avoid a regular habit of drinking juices and sugary beverages can limit cavities and poor gum health. Don’t put these types of drinks in your baby’s bottle or sippy cup repeatedly during the day for the same reason. One serving daily of juice is appropriate for adults (6-8 ounces) and for kids (4 ounces).
• See your dentist once or twice a year for a check-up and professional cleaning

Fluoride is literally the superhero that can save your teeth. Fluoride makes your teeth stronger and prevents cavities. That’s why brushing teeth with toothpaste that contains fluoride, is crucial to dental health. Drinking fluoridated water is also one of the best ways to protect your teeth. Many of us drink bottled spring water which does not contain fluoride. It’s a good idea to find out if your community has fluoridated water so you can take advantage of this important tooth-protecting compound.

Sources:
American Dental Association
Medical News Today

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