The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes each time. When you brush your teeth, you help remove food and plaque, a sticky white film that forms on your teeth and contains bacteria. Brushing twice daily also improves the health of your gums so that you can avoid gum disease. The acid that causes tooth decay irritates sensitive soft tissues in your mouth. When you brush your teeth, you dilute the inflammatory acid and help rid your mouth of the bacteria that produce it.
Brushing your teeth before you go to sleep at night helps protect against plaque buildup, tooth decay, and gum disease. If you are particularly susceptible to cavities and gum disease, dentists recommend that you brush immediately after dinner, then again right before bedtime. Brushing your teeth in the morning and at night is critical for removing plaque build-up and bacteria that lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease. Just avoid brushing vigorously, as it can damage your gums and teeth.
Many who brush regularly neglect to floss. “Flossing is not just for getting those little pieces of Chinese food or broccoli that may be getting stuck in between your teeth,” says Jonathan Schwartz, DDS. “It’s really a way to stimulate the gums, reduce plaque, and help lower inflammation in the area.”Flossing once a day is usually enough to reap these benefits. Floss daily – While brushing is critical, it doesn’t take care of everything. Flossing is a complement to brushing, as the floss is able to reach all the crevices that are too small for toothbrushes to get to.”
It’s never too late to start flossing. Flossing can be difficult, especially for young children and older adults with arthritis. Rather than give up, look for tools that can help you floss your teeth. Ready-to-use dental flossers from the drugstore can make a difference. Tooth decay and gum problems will develop unless it’s removed. If you haven’t been flossing, your gums might bleed when you start. Even if you never have flossed before, start now!
According to dentists, the best way to clean your teeth is to brush back and forth gently in short strokes. Brush the outer tooth surfaces first, then the inner tooth surfaces, followed by the chewing surfaces. To clean the backs of your front teeth, use the tip of the brush and stroke gently up and down.
Aim the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards the gum line.
Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
Use a gentle circular motion.
Repeat on the inside surfaces.
Use a light back and forth motion on the chewing surfaces.
Spit out the toothpaste after brushing.
Be careful not to overbrush. Brushing regularly is considered vital for healthy teeth and gums, but dental experts warn that you can overdo a good thing. Vigorous brushing can wear down the enamel on the teeth as well as damage and push back the gums, exposing the sensitive root area.
Tongues harbor bacteria and need to be cleaned too. Use your toothbrush to brush your tongue each time you brush your teeth or get a tongue scraper to do the job. Have you ever looked at your tongue, and noticed a white or greyish coating? This is actually a build-up of dead cells, food particles, toxins, and bacteria.
Cleaning the tongue properly and regularly is an incredibly important part of overall oral health and hygiene, and it’s very easy to do. Tongue scrapers are just as they sound: a small, slightly rounded tool, typically made from metal or plastic, that scrapes the surface of the tongue removing the daily build-up. This simple step can vastly improve the freshness of one’s breath, and also eliminate bacteria that may otherwise be contributing to tooth decay and gum disease.
Sealants are thin protective coatings applied to the back teeth that can help prevent decay and cavities. Ideally, dentists apply sealants before a tooth has decay or fillings. As the years go by, however, fewer of an adult’s teeth are likely to be in this pristine condition. This is especially true of the chewing surfaces of the grinding teeth. Sealants are an especially good idea for kids, who often have trouble reaching their back teeth while brushing. Sealants have shown to still work 9 years after placement.
Small amounts of BPA may leach from dental sealants immediately after the application of the sealants to the teeth. Human exposure to BPA from dental resins is minimal and poses no known health risk. Ask your dentist if sealants may be helpful in preventing enamel erosion and tooth decay.
The rotating and oscillating movement of the electric toothbrush head removes plaque from your teeth more efficiently than a regular toothbrush. Be sure to choose an electric toothbrush that’s comfortable to hold, easy to use, and has the rotating-oscillating head.
A 2014 review published in the Cochrane Library examined 51 randomized controlled trials involving adults and/or children brushing their teeth with electric or manual toothbrushes for at least four weeks. Overall, electric toothbrushes seemed to have an edge; when compared with manual toothbrushes, “there was an 11 percent reduction in plaque at one to three months of use, and a 21 percent reduction in plaque when assessed after three months of use,” the review’s authors concluded. “For gingivitis, there was a 6 percent reduction at one to three months of use and an 11 percent reduction when assessed after three months of use.”
Fluoride is a mineral found naturally in the earth’s crust and is one of the 16 essential minerals. It is added to many foods, public water supplies, and oral care products. It’s even been referred to as “nature’s cavity fighter,” according to the American Dental Association (ADA). As bacteria and sugars form acids that slowly lead to decay, fluoride works to strengthen the enamel, the protective surface around all your teeth, so they don’t succumb to it. Before a baby’s primary teeth start to emerge, their enamel is strengthened by the fluoride consumed through foods and beverages.
When teeth break through the gums, these natural sources of fluoride help rebuild any weakened enamel as they grow in. Fluoride helps strengthen your tooth enamel, helping to prevent tooth decay. It helps to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce pain when applied to the sensitive areas of your teeth. Repair exposed root surfaces. Receding gums may be the cause of your sensitive teeth, in which case your dentist can apply a sealant over the exposed roots to reduce sensitivity. Root canal
Drinking water is one of the healthiest ways to maintain your oral health. Drink more water throughout the day if you have low saliva volume or dry mouth. Water continues to be the best beverage for your overall health, including oral health. This can help wash out some of the negative effects of sticky and acidic foods and beverages in between brushes.
At a minimum, drink a tall glass of water following every meal and snack. This will help counteract some of the negative effects of foods and beverages in between brushing, especially sugary, sticky and acidic ones. Our bodies are made of 60% water, and staying hydrated helps your system distribute healthy nutrients, gets rid of waste, gives your skin a healthy glow and keeps your muscles moving. Sipping water is also one of the best things you can do for your teeth.
Fluoride continues to be one of the most widely used tooth treatments in the dental community, but it doesn’t come without risk. While fluoride is technically a natural element found in the earth, it differs greatly from the fluorosilicic acid, a synthetic industrial fluoride chemical, that is typically added to drinking water.
Research shows that this chemical is a dangerous neurotoxin and endocrine disruptor and can negatively impact the health of our bones and teeth, thyroid gland, pineal gland, and blood sugar levels, to name just a few of the health implications. Some of the side effects of regular fluoride consumption include:
acne and other skin problems
acne and other skin problems
damage, cardiac insufficiency, and heart failure
reproductive issues, such as lower fertility and early puberty in girls
conditions affecting the joints and bones, such as osteoarthritis, bone cancer, and TMJ
Whether you choose to ingest it or not, fluoride can be very beneficial to your oral hygiene when used as a topical treatment. If you live in an area with fluoridated water, tap water is a great resource for rinsing your mouth.
Mouthwash isn’t just for fresh breath, therapeutic mouth wash contains special ingredients that strengthen teeth and help treat certain oral health conditions. A toothbrush does the necessary job of vanquishing incredibly rude bacteria relentlessly working to mess up your oral health but rinsing with a therapeutic mouthwash before bed will help keep your teeth free of plaque and cavities and your gums safe from gingivitis.
It’s a common practice to rinse after brushing but it actually means you’re missing an important benefit of toothpaste! Another interesting concept is not to rinse your mouth at all. If you rinse after you brush, you’ll be sending all that protective fluoride down the drain, rather than leaving it in your mouth.
Instead of rinsing, you just need to spit out the excess toothpaste when you’re done brushing your teeth. If you’re a dedicated rinser, this might come across as a bit of a shock, but we challenge you to try it for a week and see if you really notice the difference in anything other than the health of your pearly whites.
If you experience worn tooth enamel, increased tooth sensitivity, or torn cheek tissue, you may be grinding your teeth in your sleep. Though dentists can’t stop you from doing it, they can make you a mouth guard that you can wear at night to protect your teeth from the effects of grinding.
Teeth grinding can create numerous problems such as local muscular pain, headaches, loss of tooth structure, gum recession, loose teeth, shortening of teeth, tooth sensitivity, facial pain, headaches, earache, cracked and broken teeth, damage to the bone structure of the jaw joint with the temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), and even facial changes. Children that grind due to a breathing airway problem can have developmental issues.
Ready-to-eat foods are convenient, but perhaps not so much when it comes to your teeth. Eating fresh, crunchy produce not only contains more healthy fiber, but it’s also the best choice for your teeth. “I tell parents to get their kids on harder-to-eat and chew foods at a younger age,” says Jonathan Schwartz, DSS. “So try to avoid the overly mushy processed stuff, stop cutting things into tiny pieces, and get those jaws working!”
Crunchy foods are good for teeth, is that crunchy fruits, vegetables, and nuts can clean teeth, stimulate saliva production, and hydrate the mouth, which all lessen the growth of bacteria. As well as foods with fiber, fiber helps keep your teeth and gums clean, says the American Dental Association (ADA). They also get saliva flowing. Next to good home dental care, this is your best natural defense against cavities and gum disease.
Ultimately, sugar converts into acid in the mouth, which can then erode the enamel of your teeth. These acids are what lead to cavities. Acidic fruits, teas, and coffee can also wear down tooth enamel. While you don’t necessarily have to avoid such foods altogether, it doesn’t hurt to be mindful. Limit your sugar intake – Foods high in sugar and starch can lead to tooth decay because sugar reacts with the bacteria in your saliva, forming an acid that erodes your tooth enamel.
Cutting back on sugary foods will help keep your tooth enamel intact, protecting your teeth. While these hard candies seem harmless, eat too many and the constant exposure to sugar can be harmful to your teeth. Hard candies also put your teeth at risk because, in addition to being full of sugar, they can also trigger a dental emergency such as a broken or chipped tooth.
Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to improve your oral health and your general health. Quitting will improve your sense of taste and smell, keep those teeth pearly white and reduce your risk of oral cancer and gum disease. We know quitting can be a challenge, but we can help you give up the cigarettes for good. We’ve gathered all our resources to help you quit smoking on QUIT HQ.
It creates plaque and tartar. Chemicals in tobacco products affect saliva flow in the mouth, making it easier for oral bacteria to stick to teeth and gums. Smokers are three to six times more likely to develop gum disease or periodontal disease, which can attack roots and cause teeth to fall out. Smoking and other tobacco products can lead to gum disease by affecting the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth. This interference makes smokers more susceptible to infections, such as periodontal disease, and also seems to impair blood flow to the gums, which may affect wound healing.
One of the surest ways of developing tooth decay is to maintain a mouth pH that is too acidic. It is said that at a pH of 5.5 the teeth begin to demineralize, leaving them vulnerable to cavities. On the contrary, when the saliva has a pH of 7.5 or above, it means teeth can become stronger and actually remineralize, meaning stronger enamel and less decay.
One of the best ways to alkalinize the entire body, mouth included, is to eat plenty of mineral-rich green leafy vegetables and non-sweet green juices. By focusing on greens such as kale, collards, spinach, chard, and lettuces, we introduce a wealth of highly bioavailable trace minerals into the body which helps alkalinize the blood, strengthen our bones, and buffer acidity in the mouth. Keeping the body alkaline also has a side benefit of giving a boost to the entire immune system, as most diseases cannot thrive in an alkaline system.
Oil pulling, or swishing with oil, may seem like a strange way to promote oral health, but it is actually an ancient practice with some incredible benefits. This Ayurvedic dental health technique helps to draw out toxins from the gums and the body as a whole. Simply take 1 tbs of high quality, organic, cold-pressed plant oil of choice (sesame and coconut work great) and swish for up to 20 minutes, “pulling” the oil between the teeth.
Aside from helping to aid in detox, oil pulling can also help brighten the teeth, and prevent plaque from building up throughout the day. Try infusing the oil with a few drops of therapeutic grade orange essential oil (brightening) or tea tree oil (cleansing and purifying) for additional tooth benefits.
Minerals are absolutely critical for our bone health, and while many of us forget, our teeth are a very important part of our skeletal system. While calcium is important, our bones also require a host of other trace minerals too such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and silica. Since our soils are deficient in many key minerals, our food supply is as well, even mineral-rich foods such as greens don’t contain the minerals they once did.
A high quality liquid ionic mineral supplement is a great way to get bioavailable minerals into the body for healthy bones and nerves and to help balance the body’s pH. Vitamin C. When it comes to periodontal health, vitamin C which helps to support the body’s entire immune system, which includes protecting your gums and teeth. Iron is a great mineral for your overall oral health. As well as vitamin D and calcium.
We all know we should, but it’s often easier said than done. However, if you’re serious about achieving better oral health, cleaning the teeth thoroughly after eating can do wonders. Removing any residual food particles from the teeth can prevent plaque from accumulating, harmful bacteria from multiplying, and pH from becoming too acidic.
If brushing and flossing isn’t an option, thoroughly swishing with water to loosen food particles and rinse the teeth of any residual sugars or acids is better than nothing. Some foods and drinks, particularly those high in carbohydrates and sugars, can stimulate the growth of oral bacteria that attack your tooth enamel. By brushing your teeth after you eat, you reduce this bacteria and help protect your enamel from damage.
While it’s no news that probiotics play an absolutely critical role in our overall gut health and immunity, we often don’t think of the bacteria living in our mouth as part of that equation. It turns out, the two are intimately linked, which only makes sense since the mouth is, by definition, the beginning of our digestive system.
Beneficial oral microbes work along with the immune system to help prevent harmful bacteria, the ones associated with tooth decay and gum disease, from becoming too dominant. They keep the bad bugs in check within our mouth, just like they do in our gut. They also help facilitate important enzymatic activity and help balance the pH of the mouth. Bacteria love to hide out in the small gaps between your teeth and gums and using a daily tooth product that features beneficial microbes can do wonders in helping keep the bad guys from proliferating.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but using charcoal, which is blacker than night, can actually whiten and brighten the teeth. Charcoal is a highly absorbent substance and can help to absorb toxins, bacteria, and also particles that are staining the teeth. Remineralizing tooth whitening powder (pictured above) addresses many issues such as staining, de-mineralization, and healthy microbial balance.
Using a blend of activated coconut charcoal, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), bamboo silica, and coconut oil powder, calcium from algae, organic essential oils, and oral-specific probiotics. This is a much safer alternative to chemical-based bleaching agents which can weaken and sensitize the teeth. Activated charcoal does have some great benefits. The packaging will tell you that activated charcoal can absorb harmful mouth bacteria, toxins, and remove stains from your teeth.
Essential oils are the highly concentrated oils found in many areas of the plant such as leaves, flowers, grasses, and roots, that contain many of the plant’s beneficial constituents. They are typically extracted via steam distillation, extraction with a solvent or CO2 gas, or resin tapping. Certain essential oils such as tea tree, wintergreen, peppermint, clove, rosemary, and thyme are excellent oils for purifying the mouth, freshening breath, and also help support healthy blood circulation in the gums and to the teeth.
Citrus oils such as orange and tangerine are also brightening and can help loosen and dissolve stains. To add essential oils to your dry brushing routine, simply choose oil and place a few drops right in your hand after diluting it with a carrier oil like almond, coconut, or jojoba oil. Then pass the bristles over your hand and make sure they absorb the oil. Once the oil has been absorbed, dry brush like normal.
24 Check for hidden sugars in what you eat and drink
It can be surprising how much sugar is added to packaged foods and drinks. Even products that boast claims of being healthy or natural can contain a lot of sugar. Frequent sugar consumption is a driving factor behind tooth decay. Common hidden sugars are: sucrose, dextrose, maltose, fructose, lactose, glucose, and honey. Pasta sauces, granola bars, yogurts, instant oatmeal, salad dressing, breakfast cereals, energy drinks, and many packaged foods are known to have hidden sugars in them.
You can find out how much sugar is in a packaged food or drink by looking at the ingredients list and nutrition information panel on the packet. When reading the nutrition information, look for 15grams of sugar or less per 100grams of the food. You can read more about finding out how much sugar is in food and drinks in our post Avoiding Hidden Sugar.
Diabetes and gum disease are linked, with poorly controlled diabetes leading to problems with bleeding gums and loss of bone that supports the teeth. It’s estimated that about 7.4 million people in the united states alone have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, so if you’re reading this and thinking “that’s not me”, it might be time to think again.
People with poorly controlled diabetes are at greater risk for dental problems. They’re more likely to have infections of their gums and the bones that hold their teeth in place because diabetes can reduce the blood supply to the gums. High blood sugar may also cause dry mouth and make gum disease worse. This chronic, inflammatory disease can destroy your gums, all the tissues holding your teeth and even your bones.
Chewing sugar-free gum after eating or drinking can help protect your teeth and gums, especially after eating sugary foods. This can help reduce the effect of acids from food on your teeth “A stick a day may keep the dentist away” Sugarless gum with xylitol may be good for your teeth. Experts say xylitol works against cavity-causing bacteria, helping to prevent tooth decay.
However, be aware that chewing gum over along amount of time can have a negative impact. the bad bacteria in your mouth digest sugar before it gets to your stomach, and you chew gum over a prolonged period of time, so those windows of time increase the amount of plaque buildup on your teeth and cause tooth decay to occur over time.
Specifically, get more Vitamin D – which you can get from supplements or exposure to the sun. Both Vitamin D and calcium help keep teeth and gums strong. Sunshine and vitamin D are needed for a healthy mouth, teeth, and gums. Sensible exposure to the sun can greatly improve our oral health prospects.
Vitamin D is often referred to as the ‘Sunshine Vitamin’ because it is made naturally by our bodies when exposed to the sunshine. Vitamin D is very important for your oral health as it is what allows us to absorb calcium. Without it, your entire mouth would suffer from calcium deficiency, leading to underdeveloped teeth, gum disease, and tooth decay.
The food we need to nourish our bodies can often do a number on our teeth. Sticky or sugary food particles help the bacteria in our mouths to produce acids, leading to tooth decay. That’s why it’s so important to keep our teeth clean between meals.
Calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese, fortified soy drinks and tofu, canned salmon, almonds and dark green leafy vegetables help promote strong teeth and bones. Phosphorus, found in eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts, and beans is good for strong teeth. Here are five foods that can actually help with your oral hygiene, see below –
Crunchy fruits and vegetables increase the flow of cleansing saliva, giving your mouth a fresh feeling. Carrots have been hailed a cavity-fighting vegetable, as munching on sticks of crunchy, raw carrot acts as a natural toothbrush. The chewing action massages your gums, and this bright vegetable is high in plaque-attacking keratin as well as Vitamin A, which is crucial for strengthening delicate tooth enamel.
Eating apples can help cleanse and clean teeth, and fight bad breath. The fibrous content of apples cleans teeth by acting as a toothbrush and scrubbing away plaque from teeth and removing other food debris. The acidity in an apple helps kill off bad bacteria that encourage bad breath. Celery gives your teeth a great workout. As you chew celery, it helps to clean your teeth and massages your gums in the process, while all that chewing will also produce plenty of saliva to neutralize bacteria.
Acid from the foods we eat can eat away at our teeth. But many dairy products can actually reduce the acid in your mouth. And a glass of milk or a piece of cheese is filling. “It satisfies you as far as hunger goes, and sugar found in milk doesn’t contribute to tooth decay,” says Dr. Ron Smith, president of the Canadian Dental Association.
Milk and other dairy products are rich in calcium, which strengthens bones and teeth. Milk also contains a protein called casein – a substance that helps fight tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel. The calcium and phosphorous in milk also strengthen and repair tooth enamel that has dissolved due to acid.
Try a slice or two of fresh onion on your sandwich. Research at a Korean University showed that raw onions have powerful antibacterial properties. In an experiment, onions wiped out four strains of bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease. Onions contain antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that help prevent diseases not just in the body but in the mouth as well. Chewing a raw onion can strengthen the teeth and kill off harmful bacteria in the mouth.
Furthermore, onions contain fiber and folic acid, a B vitamin that helps the body make healthy new cells. Onions are healthy whether they’re raw or cooked, though raw onions have higher levels of organic sulfur compounds that provide many benefits, Raw onion is incredibly healthy for you, and as an added bonus, the antibacterial sulfur compounds contained in onion will kill the harmful bacteria on your teeth. But you might want to chew gum afterward!
Cashew nut shell oil has been shown to have microbe-fighting properties against bacteria that lead to tooth decay. Not only can these nuts help keep your teeth clean, and they may also clear your skin – research shows cashew nut shell oil helps to fight one of the bacteria that cause acne. Cashews help to maintain healthy gums and teeth. The extra chewing it requires produces plenty of saliva, which neutralizes the bacteria that causes cavities. Additionally, chomping on naturally abrasive foods massages gums and cleans between teeth.
Munching on nuts has benefits for your teeth, also, because most nuts contain vitamin D and calcium. The crunch of nuts in your mouth stimulates saliva production and cleans your teeth. Nuts such as walnuts contain folic acid, magnesium, iron, and potassium, nutrients that can contribute to better oral health.
Are you a sucker for sushi? Now you have another excuse to snack on it. The wasabi that’s usually served on the side may have oral health benefits. Research in Japan has found that this spicy green cousin to horseradish can stop bacteria from sticking to your teet. Wasabi, the pungent green horseradish served with Japanese sushi, has been found to afford yet another health benefit: it could prevent tooth decay.
The isothiocyanates in wasabi are already known to have a variety of beneficial health effects. Eating wasabi strips the harmful bacteria from the mouth and restores the alkalinity in the mouth. It helps in preventing tooth decay and cavities by inhibiting the development of bacteria. Which increases the acids of the saliva thus attacking the tooth enamel.
Most people don’t bother with a dentist appointment until something goes wrong: A tooth falls out, a sudden pain makes it hard to chew, or an injury causes a chip or crack. However, most problems can be prevented if their underlying cause is found early. A regular check-up more than pays for itself by preventing costly dental procedures down the road.
Pain is a poor guide when it comes to teeth. In the case of most dental problems, there won’t be any pain until the situation has become extreme. For example, if one of your teeth has a hairline fracture, you won’t feel anything until the fracture has split, like a piece of firewood, all the way down to the root. Never skip a dentist appointment because you don’t feel any pain, the pain just might not have arrived yet.
Even if you follow these healthy tips, they will do little if you are not already practicing the basics, brushing, and flossing twice daily. You also want to avoid bad habits that can cause damage to your teeth over time.
More than one-third of Americans don’t visit the dentist regularly. Rest assured that your dentist has seen it all, and he or she is here to help, not judge. Taking care of your teeth and taking the first step towards a healthy smile is as simple as making an appointment with your dentist. If nothing looks wrong, there could still be a problem.