7 Ideas to Enhance Your Family’s Oral Health

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If tooth decay and gum disease are two oral health problems you want your family to avoid this year, then we have 7 great tips to help your family have a healthy year for their teeth and gums. Remember, most gum disease and tooth decay is preventable if you practice good oral hygiene habits. Make sure you and each member of your family spend a couple of minutes a day flossing and brushing and that you make good choices to enhance your oral health. For a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums, that’s not a lot to ask, is it?

Begin at six months. Start your child’s dental care around six months, which is when their first tooth generally appears. Initially, use a damp cloth or soft brush to wipe your baby’s teeth. Once a child turns two, they can brush for themselves with adult supervision.

Consider sealants. Just 33% of kids in the United States receive dental sealants, but it is a great way to protect your child’s permanent molars when they come in at age 6. The sealant is applied by your dentist to the chewing surfaces on the molars and provides protection against decay.

The daily duo. Be sure to brush twice a day and floss once a day to avoid gum disease and tooth decay. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, so it’s not something you want in your mouth.

Finish your meals the right way. Rinse your mouth right after a meal with water and/or an antibacterial rinse. Another tip is to chew a piece of sugar-free gum right after you eat to enhance the flow of saliva, which washes away bacteria and reduces acid.

Practice smart eating. Be sure to include whole foods in your diet because they will provide your teeth and gums the nutrients they need to stay healthy. That means to be sure to eat nuts, grains, dairy products, vegetables and fruits on a daily basis.

Say no to soda. Sugary sodas are “double trouble” because of their high sugar content and because people tend to sip them over extended periods of time. Bacteria in your mouth love sugar, because they produce acid when they break down the sugar. Acid erodes the enamel on your teeth, which can then lead to decay.

See your dentist regularly. Make an appointment for a dental check-up and cleaning every six months if you want to stay on top of your oral health. Your dental hygienist will get rid of built-up plaque on your teeth and check for tooth decay. Your dentist will also check for signs of oral cancer or gum disease.

 

SOURCE: WebMD

 

Is Sugar the Only Food That Causes Cavities?

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No, All Carbohydrates Can Impact Oral Health

Many people assume that only sugar causes cavities. Reduce or eliminate sugar from your diet, and you are safe from cavities. That’s actually not correct. You see, cavities occur as a result of tooth decay, and tooth decay occurs when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) such as breads, cereals, milk, soda, fruits, cakes, or candy are left on the teeth. So exactly how does that deliciously wonderful slice of bread that you had this morning turn into a tooth-killer cavity? It’s really a quite simple (and deadly) process that involves five steps:

  1. You eat something containing carbohydrates (remember, both sugar and starches fall into this category).

  2. Bacteria that live in the mouth digest these foods, turning them into acids.

  3. The bacteria, acid, food debris, and saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to the teeth.

  4. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth.

  5. Once the enamel is dissolved, holes form in the teeth and are called cavities, or caries.

However, the real issue is not the amount of sugar or starch in a particular food, but how long it tends to remain on your teeth. For example, some of the most damaging foods are those that mash into the tops of the molars at the back of the mouth and don't dissolve quickly -- like gummy candy or starchy chips and crackers. Lollipops, juice, and soda are also major offenders since they douse teeth in sugar for minutes at a time.

To reduce the impact of carbohydrates on your teeth and to head off the five-step process that leads to cavities, try these simple approaches:

  • Water, water and more water. Drink water with every meal and be sure to actively swish it around your mouth at the end of the meal. This will wash away the acids that formed and help remove debris.
  • Chew a piece of sugar-free gum at the end of your meal – it helps produce saliva, which aids in naturally cleaning your teeth, and it also will often remove food debris from the meal.
  • Avoid really sticky foods that stay on your teeth for hours.
  • Brush twice a day and floss daily.
  • Make sure to drink water with fluoride to strengthen your teeth – this is especially important for kids.
  • Give your kids calcium-rich cheese. It is a great cavity-fighting snack, since it can actually stimulate the flow of saliva (a natural tooth cleaner) and neutralize the mouth acids that wear away enamel.