11 Tips to a Happy and Healthy Mouth in 2018

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If you’re a fan of making New Year’s resolutions – and sticking to them – then we have 11 helpful tips for keeping your smile bright and your mouth happy in 2018. Even if you aren’t a fan of New Year’s resolutions, our list is still a great place to start on the road to good oral health this year.

Modifying your diet can whiten your teeth

If you’re a fan of black tea or red wine - or a smoker - your teeth are going to suffer. Dark foods and beverages stain your teeth which equals a dingy smile. Gravies, dark juice and colas are also hard on your smile. To counter these dark foods, brush right after you eat or drink them. Eating an apple is also a great on-the-go solution to clean your teeth.

Toss your toothbrush regularly

Get yourself in the habit of getting rid of your toothbrush every three months. That includes the head of your electric toothbrush. Bacteria settle into the bristles of your brush over time, and after a couple of months, you are just transferring a bunch of bacteria to your mouth every time you brush. Plus, worn bristles don’t clean your teeth as well. In fact, plan for the year by getting out your 2018 calendar now and note every 90 days to change your toothbrush.

Eat foods that “scrub”

Raw carrots, celery and popcorn – along with apples – are great foods that naturally scrub your teeth. Eat them at the end of a meal if you know you won't be able to brush your teeth right after eating. They are great for when you can’t get to your toothbrush and they have the added value of being high in vitamins and fiber.

Use a natural mouthwash like apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a great natural multi-purpose mouthwash. Gargle with it in the morning before your brush. It will help remove stains on your teeth, whiten them, and zap bacteria in your mouth.

Brush your teeth with baking soda once a week

Baking soda will naturally remove stains and make your teeth whiter. Use it the same way you would your toothpaste.

Be a boss of your floss

Less than half of Americans say they floss daily – which is a definite oral health mistake for those who don’t floss regularly. It just takes two minutes once a day. To make it easier to get in a daily floss, stash packages in your purse or backpack, in your desk, and next to your bed. That will make it much more difficult to find excuses not to floss.

Switch your gum

If you like gum, then be sure to use sugar-free gum. For an even better result, purchase gum with xylitol, a non-sugar sweetener that has been proven to reduce plaque. Plus, gum produces saliva, which washes away food particles in your mouth and acid from your teeth.

Brush at optimal times to enhance the results

Brush when you first get up in the morning and just before you go to bed at night. Why? Because saliva – which is a natural plaque fighter – dries up when you sleep, so you should be sure to avoid getting into bed with a mouth full of plaque. When you get up in the morning and brush, your toothbrush will remove any plaque that built up during the night. Plus it will get rid of bacteria, which causes bad breath!

Twice a day keeps the dentist away

Spend two minutes twice a day brushing your teeth and you are almost guaranteed to reduce the bad news (cavities) when you visit your dentist the next time.

Moderate your sugar intake

Bacteria in your mouth love sugar. When sugars aren't cleaned off your teeth, bacteria feed on them and produce acids. The acids then combine with bacteria, food particles and saliva to form plaque, a sticky film that covers the teeth. Once plaque forms, the acids wear away the enamel, which is the tooth's hard outer surface. These tiny openings in the enamel represent the first stage of cavities. So cut down on your sugar intake. Swap water for soda, or sugar-free gum for your regular gum.

See your dentist regularly

Twice a year is how often you should be seeing your dentist. Book a dental hygiene appointment every six months for a professional cleaning of your teeth and gums. Plus, your dentist will take a thorough look in your mouth and spot any potential issues before they become full-blown emergencies.

Sources: Delta Dental, Colgate, WebMD, Stealth Health/Reader’s Digest

 

 

Favorite Treats That are Good for Your Teeth

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Pinch Yourself, You’re Not Dreaming

Studies have revealed that a few of our most favorite dietary vices may actually have cavity-fighting properties and be good for your teeth. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Dark Chocolate

All hail the cocoa bean!  This news may have been around awhile, but it’s still good news. Cocoa beans, which are used to make chocolate, contain antioxidants including flavonoids, polyphenols and tannins. Tannins are what cause dark chocolate to have that delightful yet bitter taste, and they also have properties which help to prevent bacteria from sticking to your teeth. Polyphenols have antimicrobial properties, which means they help to reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth.

Bacteria in the mouth are what cause bad breath and gum disease. Research has been conducted by the University of Osaka in Japan, as well as other studies in the US and UK. If you’re planning to run out to get some dark chocolate, aim for 70% cacao or higher.

Cheese

If you're one of the many people who profess a love of cheese, you now have another reason to enjoy this tasty food. A recent study found that eating cheese raised the pH in the subjects' mouths and lowered their risk of tooth decay. It's thought that the chewing required to eat cheese increases saliva in the mouth. Cheese also contains calcium and protein, nutrients that strengthen tooth enamel.

Yogurt

Like cheese, yogurt is high in calcium and protein, which makes it a good pick for the strength and health of your teeth. The probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, found in yogurt also benefit your gums because the good bacteria crowd out bacteria that cause cavities. If you decide to add more yogurt to your diet, choose a plain variety with no added sugar.

Almonds

Almonds are great for your teeth because they are a good source of calcium and protein while being low in sugar. Enjoy a quarter cup of almonds with your lunch. You can also add a handful to a salad or to a stir-fry dinner.

Red Wine

Yes, you heard right. Red wine, like dark chocolate, also contains tannins and other antioxidants. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry recently concluded that red wine, whether or not it contained alcohol, inhibited the growth of bacteria and oral biofilms, which become plaque. The same study also found properties in grape seed extract to have similar antimicrobial properties.

Black Coffee

Results of a recent study released by Rio de Janeiro’s Federal University in Brazil have revealed that black coffee may also have properties that inhibit the growth of bacteria. The study found that an extract called Coffee Canephora, which is present in about 30% of the world’s coffee, helped to break down the biofilms. Coffee also contains tannins, the same antioxidants found in red wine and dark chocolate. The coffee bean cited in this study is called Robusta. Robusta is often found in darker, stronger roasts. The key is to drink coffee without cream or sugar, as both will counteract the potential benefits from the coffee beans.

Along with adding leafy greens, dairy products and fibrous vegetables to your diet, pay attention to what you're drinking. Since it has no calories or sugar, water is always the best pick, especially compared to juice or soda. Your diet makes a big difference when it comes to a healthy smile.

Enjoy, In Moderation

Is this all too good to be true?  Well, a little bit. Coffee, chocolate and red wine all have dark pigments that can stain teeth, which is why many dentists may encourage people to avoid them. Dental restorations such as crowns and veneers, as well as recently whitened teeth, may be more susceptible to staining, so it is important to follow the recommendations of your dentist.

If you plan to enjoy any of these treats, remember to do so in moderation. We also recommend you follow up with a good swish of water reduce the staining potential until you can find time to brush. Brushing for 2 minutes twice a day, and flossing, are a critical part of your oral health routine. It is also important to see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. The good news is that you can reward yourself after your dental visit with some delightful treats!

Source: Colgate.com, MouthHealthy.org (American Dental Association)