by: Dr. Tom Swanlund
Follow these tips to keep your mouth healthy!
1. Brush at least 3x per day, preferably after breakfast, after lunch and after dinner. If you are unable to brush, drink water to naturally cleanse the food from your mouth. This can help prevent cavities.
2. A common side effect of many prescribed medication is dry mouth, otherwise known as xerostomia. This can put you at much higher risk of developing oral diseases such as cavities, gingivitis and periodontal disease. Stimulating saliva helps to cleanse the mouth, it can be achieved during the day through chewing sugarless gum, sucking on sour sugarless candies, or using a saliva substitute.
3. Eat healthy tooth-friendly snacks. Avoid snacking on starchy or sugar laden foods as these stick to the teeth and promote activity of harmful oral bacteria. Great snack ideas are fibrous ones like apples, pears, celery, as well as foods that coat the teeth and help prevent oral disease such as cheese and dark chocolate.
4. Beverage choices are just as important. Choose coffee or tea without milk or sugar. We always think sugar is the culprit for cavities but so is the milk we add to our warm beverages. Milk coats the teeth and is easily digestible by bacteria in the oral cavity, this raises the acidity level in the mouth and the teeth have a higher likelihood of breakdown (cavities). Watch acidic beverages as well such as pop, juice and sport drinks.
5. Give up smoking and chewing tobacco. Not only does this harmful habit increase your risk of oral and other types of cancer, it raises your risk of gum disease, oral fungus infections and cavities. If that is not bad enough it stains your teeth and causes halitosis (bad breath).
6. Limit alcohol. Heavy alcohol use can increase your risk of developing oral and throat cancers. If combined with tobacco use, your risk is raised substantially.
7. Make a habit of flossing. The surface area below the gum line that you cannot see is equal to the one above, cleaning it is vital to for your oral health. Actually the bacteria you brush off your teeth each time may not be as harmful as the bacteria that lurks under your gum line. Reason being, the bacteria that live under the gums are typically anaerobic ones, those that do not need oxygen to live and can produce by-products/toxins that can be detrimental to your gums and surrounding bone. Floss the teeth you want to keep!
8. See your dentist for a regular dental exam and your dental hygienist for regular dental cleanings to remove harmful bacteria, plaque and tarter.