Who doesn’t have problems with their teeth? The tingle which starts when biting into frozen desserts or after munching on a particularly sticky candy ends with the dreaded drilling and filling at the dentists. Can we circumvent that route and have naturally healthy hassle-free teeth? Armed with the correct information, we can.
What Causes Cavities?
If we don’t clean the mouth after a meal, we are practically feeding them with the food remains wedged between our teeth. They eat, flourish, and like ourselves, produce some objectionable byproducts of eating. Bacteria release acid. Even though the enamel of our teeth, made of a form of calcium, is the hardest substance in the body, the acid slowly erodes it.
Saliva protects our teeth by diluting the acid, washing down food debris and remineralizing enamel. But this mineralization is slow, and the erosion of enamel sooner or later leads to cavities or caries. Most cavities are initially “silent.” By the time pain sets in large part of the damage is already done. If left further untreated, the decay will spread to the dentin and pulp and destroy the rest of the tooth, including root nerves.
How can we steer clear of cavities?
Nothing like keeping the mouth squeaky clean to prevent ’em cavities. Granted that some people are genetically inclined to having poor teeth, dentists still swear by a simple but thorough dental hygiene regime to keep tooth decay afar.
Brushing twice – once in the morning and once before going to bed at night – is the foundation on which dental health is established. Brush gently (brushing is not sandpapering!) for 2-3 minutes covering all tooth surfaces and gum lines. This will dislodge food debris from between the teeth. Brushing the top surface of your tongue removes the bacterial film that forms on it overnight. If you are up to it, brush your teeth after every meal. Use a good quality toothbrush with soft bristles and replace it once every three months or so. And keep it clean.
Use toothpaste with Fluoride or Triclosan. Fluorides have proven effectiveness in fortifying tooth enamel and protecting it against acid attack. Some amount of fluoride is also received through drinking water. If your dentist finds it necessary, you can include fluoride supplements in your diet. Triclosan provides some protection against tooth decay. Casein (milk protein) and mint extracts are also effective against bacteria.
3) Dental Floss
While brushing, you may have already noticed that it is hard to reach tooth surfaces that are in contact with each other. But the same is easily accomplished with dental floss. That is exactly why flossing is important even if you are very conscientious about brushing your teeth. Alternatively, some top brands have brought out intra-dental cleaner brushes as well.
4) Mouth rinse
Good antimicrobial mouth rinses are available over the counter. After eating or brushing, rinse your mouth with Listerine or another fluoride mouthwash for one minute. After rinsing spit out. Do not rinse or eat for another 30 minutes. Let the fluoride reinforce your teeth.
5) What you eat
A balanced diet is of essense. Since a tooth is mostly calcium, food rich in it as low-fat dairy, and also fruits and vegetables loaded with Vitamin A and C boost dental health. As sugars and carbohydrates are easily consumed by bacteria too much of sugary and starchy foods are bad for teeth. So are sticky foods like caramel that are not easily cleared by swallowing or rinsing. Citrus fruits, grapes, etc. are acidic and can dissolve enamel. After you have eaten them, rinse thoroughly.
6) When you eat
Eating fewer, wholesome meals, with longer gaps in between allows time for the saliva to prevent/fix the damage. If we eat more frequent meals and snacks in between, there is constant acid production and little time for repair. If you have an incurable sweet tooth, eat your special favorite along with your meal and not separately as snacks.