It’s been said that your mouth, teeth and gums are the window to your overall health. Of course without teeth, you wouldn’t be able to talk, eat or smile. But some common inadvertent habits may just be costing you your good oral health. Here are just a few behaviors you should try to avoid if you want to keep those pearly whites in tip-top shape your entire life.
1. Sour Foods, Candy and OTC Medications Are Not Your Friend
If you think just processed white sugar was bad for your teeth, you might be surprised to realize that many other foods can be just as bad. For instance sour candy which is naturally high in acids is also a hazard to your healthy enamel. Of course the sour taste can come in the form of soft drinks, fruit juices, diet and sports drinks and even some OTC (over the counter nonprescription) medications like lemon-lime chewable antacids. It is significant to note that children’s tooth enamel simply isn’t tough enough to handle chronic high acid content and so enamel erosion is an especially big problem for kids. Fortunately you can minimize the effect of high-acid foods by limiting their consumption to solely during meals, where the acid effects are typically diluted. It’s also helpful to chew gum containing xylitol (a natural decay inhibiting sweetener) after consuming anything acidic. Even brushing teeth with baking soda (the alkaline pH neutralizes the acids) from time to time has been shown to counteract the acids found in our diets. Important: If you consume acidic foodstuffs you should wait ½ hour after eating to brush your teeth. The acids soften the outer enamel layer and brushing the softened layer will accelerate the enamel erosion. I recommend rinsing thoroughly with water, fluoride mouthwashes (ACT, etc.) or chewing sugarless or xylitol gum.
2. Your Braces May Contribute to your Cavities
Some 3.9 million children and 1.1 million adults are receiving orthodontic treatment at any one time in the United States. Cavities have a tendency to form around the brackets when rushed brushing and infrequent flossing leaves bacterial plaque. Bacteria, acids and foods can get stuck and can start to eat into the enamel. Another response to inadequate brushing and flossing while wearing braces is called demineralization. This typically takes the form of unsightly white or softer chalky areas on the surface of the teeth adjacent to the orthodontic brackets, wires and gumlines. The acids cause Calcium and other minerals to leach out of the enamel softening it and creating “pre-cavities”. Generally, your tongue and saliva will naturally buffer (neutralize) the acids left on the enamel, but with braces in place the natural cleaning activity of our mouth chemistry is significantly reduced.
3. Ingesting Too Much Fluoride can be Bad for your Child
When they first learn to brush children can inadvertently swallow small amounts of fluoride. They simply lack the coordination needed to brush and spit well. The problem becomes especially crucial when they start to develop their permanent teeth. Swallowing fluoride toothpaste and or mouthwash can possibly lead to a condition called fluorosis. Generally, they resemble demineralized spots since they start out as white spots on tooth enamel, but over time can become brown. With these deeper stains, simply polishing them off may or may not be an option. So what can you do?
The best guarantee against this is to supervise your children as they brush. A small pea-size of fluoride toothpaste is plenty for them. Some dentists recommend that children actually use fluoride –free toothpaste, if fluoride is already available in your local water supply. Of course at approximately 6 years of age when they can coordinate the spit and rinse process, they can begin to use fluoride toothpaste on their own.
4. Tooth Enamel isn’t as Tough as You Think
Tooth enamel may be the hardest substance in the human body, but many people still experience chipped or broken teeth because of ice, popcorn and oral piercings. Nearly 41 percent of people with oral piercings have corresponding tooth fractures or cracks. People who’ve actually worn piercings for a long time have a statistically significant increase in tooth loss and gum disease. Of course, if not properly cleaned, piercings can also harbor a lot of bacteria and sometimes create neurological problems. Another common behavior that’s extremely bad for teeth is using them to pry open bottle caps or tear open plastic packaging. We don’t recommend that you use your teeth as tools, pliers or bottle openers. You need to be vigilant about your dental habits, so that your teeth for your entire lifetime!
At the dental practice of Dr. Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD, PC it’s our privilege and obligation to inform you of the latest information about keeping your gums and smile healthy and your pearly whites attractive and functional for your greatly extended life expectancy. The latest research has demonstrated that the best part is that good oral health (including regular hygiene and check-ups) will translate to better overall health and a longer life. Let us help you achieve a healthy and beautiful smile in a relaxed, pain-free and nonjudgmental atmosphere! Call us for an appointment today at 248-356-8790 and discover the difference a great dentist can make!
Until Next Time,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD
Your Southfield Family Dentist
Tel: (248) 356-8790