Daily Tips for Keeping Your Teeth Healthy
Regular trips to the dentist are obviously essential for the health of your teeth. But dental repairs can be expensive, even from dentists in the Netherlands. As prevention is better than cure, it is very possible to avoid cavities, tooth decay, gum inflammation, and other such problems altogether. This will, in turn, reduce those painful dentist visits.
To have a lifetime of strong and healthy teeth, you must implement an all-round good oral hygiene routine. This means more than just regularly brushing your teeth. In a previous Expat Republic article, while discussing the correct way to brush teeth we briefly touched on some general recommendations for keeping your teeth healthy. Although we know that our daily actions affect our life-long oral health, in practical terms what should we be doing on a day-to-day basis that will help the condition of our teeth?
We decided to again get in touch with our resident expert, dental hygienist Sanam Khosrawi of Lassus Tandartsen, to find out. According to Sanam, there are plenty of good habits you can adopt and lots of bad habits you should drop if you want to have strong teeth and gums.
Here are some changes you can incorporate into your daily routine that will improve your overall oral health:
Use an electric or sonic toothbrush
Speak to any dental expert and they are likely to recommend brushing your teeth with an electric or sonic toothbrush. There are a few very good reasons for this. When you use an electric or sonic toothbrush, the brush does a lot of the work for you. The rapid oscillating movement of the brush head allows for more plaque removal than with manual brushing. You also apply less pressure on your teeth and gums when using an electric or sonic toothbrush. Brushing too hard will wear down the enamel and can cause your gums to recede.
Be mindful when brushing
Another essential habit to get into is to always stay focused when you are brushing your teeth. For the sake of your overall health, this is one time that multi-tasking is not recommended. Concentrate on brushing your teeth carefully and conscientiously. Stand in front of your mirror and watch what you are doing. Be mindful and ensure you spend two full minutes on the process each and every time.
Don’t neglect your tongue when brushing
If you don’t already clean your tongue every time you brush your teeth, this is a great habit to get into. The tongue is a large source of bacteria in the mouth. After drinking things like coffee, you can see the evidence of stains on the tongue. This bacteria builds up if left uncleaned, which leads to bad breath. Many good quality toothbrushes come with a built-in tongue scraper. Get into the habit of using this as part of your regular oral hygiene routine.
Use inter-dental devices
We can’t completely clean in between our teeth with a toothbrush alone. Therefore, it is also necessary to use some type of interdental cleaning product to stir up the bacteria trapped between the teeth. According to the size of the gaps between your teeth and how tightly they are packed, your dentist or dental hygienist will advise which type of floss, inter-dental stick or brush you should use.
Stop nibbling on food throughout the day
Dental experts recommend no more than seven moments of eating in a day. This equates to your three main meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – and four snacks. After eating, the acid levels in your mouth sharply increase. In order to keep these levels under control, each instance of eating should last no longer than 30 minutes. But, it is essential to note that all small instances of snacking and nibbling count too. This means that if you graze on bits of food continuously throughout the day or snack on crisps in the office regularly, your tooth enamel is constantly under attack from acids.
Wait 1 hour after eating to brush teeth
The reason acidity in the mouth is bad is because it softens the enamel on teeth. The enamel helps to protect teeth and gives them their lovely white colour. Therefore, you will definitely want to adopt any daily habits that help to keep enamel intact. One tip is to wait an hour after eating to brush your teeth and to brush your teeth before breakfast, not after (unless you can wait about 30-60 minutes before doing so). When your enamel is at its softest, you don’t want to brush it away.
Ditch the orange juice in the morning
We were shocked to hear that one of the worst things you can do to your teeth is to drink fruit juice, especially citrus juices, with your breakfast. Although marketed as a breakfast drink, the acid found orange juice is detrimental to tooth enamel. This advice is not just for breakfast time either. In general, fruit juice should be completely limited in your diet. When asked what is the best fluid to replace fruity drinks in the morning, our dental expert boringly but unsurprisingly advised water.
Opt for sugar-free drinks
If you must drink something other than water, dental-health professionals recommend that you choose sugar-free drinks in order to protect your teeth. Sugar increases the acid levels in the mouth, and as we already know, this is bad for teeth and their enamel. As a result, you may be tempted to try a healthy option and pop a slice of lemon instead of sugar into your tea or hot water. This is also not recommended due to the acidity of citrus juice.
Give up smoking
You knew this was coming. And although it may go without saying, it still must be included on any list about good oral hygiene habits; don’t smoke. Smoking not only stains the tongue with particles on a microscopic level causing bad breath but it also negatively impacts your overall dental health. Smokers are five times more likely to develop periodontitis and have a higher risk of oral cancer. With a lowered immune system and restricted veins, smokers’ gums are also badly affected by reduced amounts of Vitamin C and D.
Stop biting your nails
Your mother was right: “Stop biting your nails or it’s going to ruin your teeth!” Nail biting, pen chewing, finger sucking; all these terrible habits are especially bad for the state of your teeth.
There is even a medical term – bruxism – for the damaged caused by biting the nails. Long-term nail-biting can cause teeth to wear down, chip and break, make the jaw click and pop, and cause thin enamel and sensitive teeth. Quitting this bad habit will go a long way towards keeping your teeth strong.
Understand the effect of medication on teeth
Taking medication in cases of illness is unavoidable. However, certain medications can have a negative impact on tooth health over prolonged periods of time. Saliva is essential for fighting germs in the mouth. Some medicines can cause a dry mouth, and less saliva leads to a higher risk of cavities. If concerned, you should consult your doctor regarding your medication as there are many ways to counteract this, including chewing sugar-free gum, drinking lots of water or using special gels designed for this purpose.
While you probably already knew much of the information contained within this article about healthy teeth, it often helps to see everything laid out plainly from an expert. As a piece of parting advice, Sanam pointed out that if you do find yourself with bad habits as an adult, it’s never too late to break them. For your oral health and tooth strength, it is important to at least try. We often make daily decisions based on the size of our waistline or for our cholesterol levels. Now is the time to start making the daily changes that will positively impact the health of your teeth for the rest of your life.