Taking care of your teeth is vital to not just your oral health, but to your overall health. When you leave dental problems unaddressed, they can quickly snowball into other, more extensive health issues that affect the entire body. In fact, dentists agree that many dental issues can be avoided with good, preventive care. Additionally, some point to the Western Diet full of sugar, carbohydrates, and processed foods as one of the main causes of dental caries in the United States. Whatever perspective you choose to take on your oral health, there is usually something you could be doing better to improve it, ensuring you not only have a lifetime of healthy smiles, but a lifetime of good health to boot. Here are 3 things you may not know about your own oral health.
Saliva is 98% water and contains many important electrolytes, antibacterial compounds, and various enzymes. According to Dr. Kimberly Harms, “Saliva is nature’s disinfecting cavity fighter.” Dry mouth can lead to tooth decay, since saliva isn’t available to buffer against the bad effects of sugar and other foods that attack the tooth’s enamel. If you have dry mouth, it’s important to see Dr. Allen for treatment. If you occasionally notice your mouth is dry, be sure to drink plenty of water.
When sugar or carbohydrates sit on your teeth, bacteria in your mouth (bacteria which is always there) creates acids, and it is these acids which hurt your teeth. If you are constantly consuming sugary foods and drinks, you need to at the very least swish your mouth with water immediately after each snack. Put more succinctly, Dr. Harms says, “If you’re eating an entire meal, that’s really one encounter, one acid attack. But if you’re sipping a soft drink, or eating anything with a carbohydrate in it…each time you take a sip, you’re going to create an acid attack on your teeth. We have a saying: ‘Sip all day, risk decay.'”
Now, this might sound a little strange to those who haven’t heard it before, but when you are brushing your teeth with toothpaste, you don’t have to rinse your mouth thoroughly with water. Think about it: Toothpaste contains fluoride, which is good for your teeth, and the longer that it sits on your teeth, the more of an effect it can have for preventing tooth decay. This is especially true at night, when you are just going to bed. If you “swish” rather than “rinse”, your mouth will be protected throughout the night, when your mouth tends to become drier and more susceptible to tooth decay.
As an added bonus, here is one more thing we can tell you about your oral health. It is actually very important to see your dentist for checkups and for biannual cleanings. This is not something you should skip because there will always be plaque on your teeth that you cannot remove on your own with a toothbrush. Even those with impeccable dental habits will develop some plaque on their teeth that needs to be removed by a dental hygienist. If you haven’t seen your dentist in awhile, call Caring Smiles Dental now to see Dr. Allen!