1. Get your teeth straightened
When teeth are aligned – i.e. all in a straight row – they’re a lot easier to keep clean. Crooked teeth and irregular gaps create awkward crevices and hidden edges and these hard-to-reach areas spell trouble if we don’t clean them effectively. Food debris hides and, consequently, plaque accumulates in tight, overcrowded mouths, leading to poor dental hygiene and causing gum inflammation, decay and unsightly stains.
Teeth straightening has never been easier – long gone are the days when braces were just for children – and they don’t have to be heavy metal appliances of yesteryear either. Many dental clinics now offer teeth straightening options which are so discreet, even your best friends won’t notice! Adult cosmetic teeth-straightening treatments are perfect for those of us who simply wish to improve our smile, make our dental hygiene easier to maintain – and wish it to be quick, painless, discreet and affordable. Ask your dental clinic about the various systems – from clear aligners and porcelain braces to lingual orthodontics that affix to the back of the teeth, you can now achieve a straighter, healthier smile in less than six months.
2. Watch what you eat and drink…
We are what we eat, as the saying goes – but did you know that our mouths are often the part of our body that takes the brunt of a poor diet?
What we eat can negatively affect the health of teeth and gums and reduce the resistance to many oral conditions, including gum disease and oral cancer.
Frequent sugar attacks on our teeth will cause rapid decay, which leads to cavities and increases the chances of needing fillings and other remedial dental treatments so try to avoid fizzy and sweet drinks, and only drink milk or water with nothing added in between meals.
Scientists recently found that switching to a diet focused on reducing inflammation may also help those with gum disease, with those who reduced carbohydrates intake and increased omega-3 fatty acids consumption showing a significant improvement in their gum health.
And top up your intake on fruit and veggies, too – but do keep an eye out for those hidden sugars. Also, make sure you eat your fruit, don’t drink it! Fruit juices and smoothies are renowned for causing tooth erosion.
3. …And eat and drink to keep teeth clean
Did you know that some food and drink actually keeps teeth clean and healthy? By tweaking your diet a few notches, you’re on your way to making that dental hygiene visit a whole lot easier. Here are a few tasty tips…
Cheese fights cavities, balances the pH in the mouth, preserves tooth enamel and kills bacteria that cause cavities and disease
Green tea reduces plaque and help reduce cavities and gum disease
Strawberries can whiten teeth
Crunchy raw carrot sticks and crisp apples can clean teeth
4. Don’t forget these dos and don’ts of teeth brushing
There can be a temptation to reach for a toothbrush immediately after a meal, but try to resist! Wait for at least 30 minutes because brushing too soon after eating can damage tooth enamel. Also, it’s recommended to brush your teeth before you have breakfast in the morning to reduce the bacteria in your mouth before you eat.
5. Get chewing!
Did you know that chewing gum stimulates saliva that helps to clear away food debris and bacteria after eating? Just make sure it’s sugarfree! One study recently suggested that chewing just one additional piece of sugarfree gum each day could save £3.3 billion worldwide on dental expenditures from treating tooth decay.
In addition to your two minutes twice a day teeth brushing regime, chewing sugarfree gum increases the production of saliva flow, which helps the neutralisation of plaque acids, maintains tooth mineralisation and helps to reduce mouth dryness. Just be mindful of how you dispense with it – always bin it.
6. Stay hydrated
Our saliva is a natural, powerful defence against tooth decay and, as it is made up of around 99% water, keeping hydrated is key to its production. Saliva contains important elements such as bicarbonate, calcium, and phosphate that not only neutralise those aggressive plaque acids, but also helps to repair early tooth damage and decay. Drinking natural water is the healthiest way to hydrate and rinsing the mouth with water in between meals may help to remove food debris that could otherwise contribute to dental decay.
7. Don’t stress – and enjoy a good night’s rest
When we’re feeling under pressure, it’s only natural to seek solace in all that food and drink we know is bad for us – so try to keep that stress in check and do some exercise or try out some meditation techniques rather than reach for sugary comfort foods and a glass of wine – or two. Stress can also lead to teeth grinding teeth (bruxism) that can wear out tooth enamel, destroying teeth and exposing the dentin, causing sensitivity as well as damage.
Bruxism also increases the risk of developing headaches, TMJ disorders, facial pain and earache. Talk to your dental clinic if you have any concerns. They may be able to fit you with a mouthguard to wear at night to prevent the grinding or clenching of teeth.