Who doesn’t want white, bright, and healthy teeth? While that may be your goal, you may have a few habits that are contributing to the discoloration, wear, tear, and decay of your teeth. With a few small and consistent changes, you can keep your teeth healthy and strong. While consistency is key, it doesn’t have to be 100 percent of the time—that is of course unless you are speaking of your daily brushing and flossing, and your bi-annual trips to the dentist.
Rinse Between Meals
You know how you aren’t supposed to allow food to sit out all day at the improper temperature? Same goes for the food you eat. When you eat your snacks and three daily meals, small food particles get left behind. These food particles can get trapped between your teeth and gums, leaving you with bacteria causing germs. This bacteria increases your odds for bad breath, tartar, plaque, and tooth decay.
While brushing your teeth shortly after eating can damage your teeth and gums, rinsing your teeth between meals can eliminate much of these food particles. All you need to do is swish and rinse with plain old water. If your breath smells, use mouthwash, chew sugar-free gum, eat a sugar-free mint—or just brush your tongue.
Use A Straw
If you are going to enjoy a beverage that is dark in color or high in sugar or acid, it is best to drink it with a straw. Beverages like soda or fruit juice are high in decay-causing sugar. Beverages like orange juice or lemon water are high in acid. Coffee, tea, and red wine are dark—and over time can yellow your teeth. Instead, use a straw to minimize the contact with your teeth, and help keep them strong and white.
Avoid Sticky Foods
The first foods that might come to mind when you think of sticky foods might be caramel or taffy. However, there are many healthy foods that are sticky, such as dried fruit. The problem with sticky foods is that they are almost always high in sugar and sugar (even if unrefined) is not great for your teeth. On top of the sugar content, sticky foods typically stick to the hard to reach concaves of your teeth, and in-between your teeth. Even after rinsing or flossing, bacteria-causing sticky remnants are often left behind.
Avoid Acidic Foods
The tricky part about acidic foods is that many foods that are high in acid are good for your body—but not so great for your teeth. Acid can erode tooth enamel, which is difficult to restore. While it’s almost impossible to remove all acid from your diet, you should at least be aware of what to keep an eye out for. Processed foods, soda, and sweetened beverages are often high in acid, but here is a quick peek at some healthy foods that are also high in acid.
- Some teas
- String beans
- Wine and liquor
Eat Less Sugar and Avoid The All Day Sugar Trap
Whether refined or unrefined, consuming high amounts of sugar can drastically increase your odds for cavity and decay. Even if your diet is fairly healthy, you may be guilty of the all-day sugar trap. For example, if you chew gum, eat breath mints all day, are constantly drinking electrolyte sports beverages, or even if you sip coffee or tea with milk – each of these exposes your teeth to a high amount of sugar, which can be damaging to your overall oral health in the long-run. Try and switch to sugar-free mints and gum, drink black coffee, and turn to water as your beverage of choice.
Chew Sugar-Free Gum
Sometimes gum gets a bad rap for being bad for your teeth, but if you chew a sugar-free gum then it can actually be quite good. Chewing gum after a meal is both an excellent way to freshen your breath, but also to remove bacteria causing food particles. Chewing sugar-free gum also stimulates the production of saliva, which neutralizes pH-balance after eating foods high in acid. Studies show that gum that contains casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate (CPP-ACP) can help to remineralize and harden enamel—which is a tricky thing to do once enamel starts to wear down.
Drink More Water
Drinking more water provides a similar benefit of rinsing your mouth after you eat, but a few more. Proper hydration is good for your body on every level. When speaking of your teeth and gums, the more water you drink—the more your body will naturally produce bacteria-fighting saliva and enzymes. If you suffer from dry mouth, have a stuffy nose, or will be in a dry environment—set a goal to sip water several times per hour. Also, hydrate first thing in the morning.
Eat Less Hard Foods
Your teeth are not indestructible, meaning that you must be mindful of how many hard foods you consume. Just like sticky foods, some hard foods may come as a surprise. This could include hard candy, tortilla chips, nuts, seeds, or even ice cubes. In case it needs to be said, avoid the temptation to use your teeth as a means of opening a stubborn bottle top—or to rip open a hard to access bag or container.
Use Fluoride Daily
“Fluoride” it’s a word we’ve all heard of, right? However, it is important to understand its role in keeping your teeth healthy. Fluoride not only helps to maintain your tooth enamel, which is almost impossible to restore—but it can even help close small cavities. While you should always look for a fluoride toothpaste, also consider a daily fluoride mouthwash. Contrary to popular use, you are supposed to use your fluoride mouthwash before you brush. However, there is certainly no harm in using it after your 2-minute daily brushing routine.
Brush and Floss
You knew it was coming! You absolutely must brush, floss, and stay on top of your oral hygiene.
At the very least you must:
- Brush your teeth for 2 minutes 2 times a day with a soft bristle toothbrush
- Floss at least once daily, and as needed when debris is stuck
- Use a fluoride toothpaste and/or fluoride mouthwash
- Visit the dentist for cleaning and dental exam every 6 months
- Follow your dentist’s specific instructions
- Switch your toothbrush out every 90 days
To make brushing easier, more fun, and even more comfortable:
- Try a few different types of toothpaste – standard, foaming, gel, different flavors, etc.
- Try a couple of different flosses and tapes until you find one that is most comfortable and effective for your needs
- Try a few different toothbrush designs. There are many out there to choose from. Of course, we feel The Triple Bristle is your best option!
Maintain Oral Hygiene
We all get busy and squeezing time in to go to the dentist can be a challenge. However, professional teeth cleaning is the only way to eliminate suborn tartar and plaque effectively. It is also the best way to identify areas of opportunity before they get out of control. If having whiter and brighter teeth is your goal, your dentist will give you specific tips and suggestions regarding the best ways to address discoloration.
Consider a Sonic Toothbrush
One of the largest challenges with brushing and flossing is perfecting the angle in which you brush and floss. This is why many switch to a self-adjusting sonic toothbrush. The other excellent advantage to an electric toothbrush, is that they come with a built-in two-minute timer. This is of importance, because the average person only brushes for around 40 seconds.
When Not To Brush
While it is important to brush your teeth twice daily, and to avoid eating and drinking anything other than water for 30 minutes after you brush so that you don’t undo all your cleaning, it is also important to know when not to brush. Most of us eat breakfast, then brush our teeth shortly thereafter. However, it is not wise to brush within 30 minutes of eating—especially if you have consumed something acidic such as orange juice or coffee. This can prevent quite a challenge in the morning so plan as best as you can.
There is also such as thing as over-brushing. In your effort to recommit to your overall oral health and hygiene, you might think it is a good idea to brush harder, longer, more frequently, or with a stiffer brush. However, 2 times a day with a soft-bristle brush is all you need, unless your dentist suggests otherwise.
The tips above are designed to help you take a proactive approach to your oral hygiene. However, it is never too late. If you realize that you have adopted a few bad habits, tackle one at a time until your daily routine supports white, bright, and healthy teeth and gums.