Good oral hygiene consists of actively practicing good oral health, however, practicing good oral health is not only in brushing, flossing and mouthwash. For maintaining good oral health it is essential to understand the harmful and beneficial effects certain substances have on your teeth.
Why is Oral Health Important?
When it comes to maintaining good oral health, the important thing to look out for is bacteria. As a result of poor oral health and unhealthy diets like starchy and sugary food, bacteria can reproduce readily and further cause plaque, tooth decay, gingivitis and eventually gum diseases.
Our mouths comprise huge numbers of bacteria, these bacteria survive by feeding on the sugars in the food and drinks we consume. They then leave behind waste in the form of biofilm, which is known as dental plaque. After the formation of plaque, the bacteria eventually make acids, which wear down the tooth enamel, leading to cavities. The bacteria in the plaque also produce toxic products that enter the gum tissues, causing gingivitis, which can then cause periodontitis.
Your diet is also a major contributor to your oral health. Sugary and starchy food are causal factors for plaque. The dental plaque created from bacteria in turn produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red, sensitive, and susceptible to bleeding. Dental plaque upon worsening leads to gum diseases, where the gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that fill with bacteria and pus. If the gums go untreated they can also lead to tissue loss and bone damage around the gum areas.
Maintaining Oral Health
Brushing and Flossing
The instructions to be followed while brushing include:
- Make sure to place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
- While brushing your teeth, start with gentle short strokes and then move back and forth.
- Start by brushing the outer tooth surfaces, then move to the inner tooth surfaces, and then finally move to the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
- Clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth by using the tip of the brush in a gentle up and down motion.
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen breath.
The instructions to follow while flossing include:
- Initially tear about 18 inches of floss, wind it around the middle fingers of each hand. While using the floss, place it between your thumbs and forefingers and hold tightly.
- Move the floss in between your teeth in a gentle motion.
- Make sure to clean the gaps between adjacent teeth using the floss.
Mouthwashes can be used to ensure total protection. Antimicrobial mouth rinses drastically reduce bacteria and plaque activity. Fluoride mouth rinses on the other hand help reduce and prevent tooth decay.
When choosing a mouthwash make sure to consult with your dentist as not all products are appropriate for everybody. Fluoride rinses are not the best option for children ages 6 or younger because they may swallow them.
Food Promoting Oral Health
- Food that is high in Vitamin C promotes gum health, hence consuming tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, potatoes and spinach are advantageous.
- Food that is rich in calcium, such as low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese. Other items also include fortified soy drinks and tofu, canned salmon, almonds and dark green leafy vegetables. All of these mentioned calcium-rich food items help maintain teeth and bone health.
- Phosphorus is another element contributing to strong teeth, and they are usually found in eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts and beans.
While snacking make sure to indulge in healthy snacking. Avoid regular snacking as the more you snack, the more bacteria will be able to create acid attacks within your mouth. Smart snacking, however, can help you sustain your hunger and keep your teeth in good shape.
Stay away from sugary treats and opt for raw vegetables, fruits, plain yogurt and popcorn. If possible, it is always ideal to quickly brush or at least rinse your mouth after snacking as this can help keep the cavities at bay.
Food Deterring Oral Health
- Acidic food can be unhealthy for your enamel making your teeth more susceptible to decay, therefore make sure that your teeth are not constantly exposed to acidic food items. Citric fruits and juices can also worsen your mouth sores. Ensure that you do not overdo your intake of acidic food items, and when consuming try to follow with a glass of water.
- Dried fruits are healthy snacks and often recommended by dietitians as ideal food options, but these dry fruits can be sticky, which can consequently damage your teeth. They remain in your mouth for longer periods, which again are easily accessible to bacteria. If you have a liking for dry fruits make sure you rinse, brush and carefully floss your mouth afterward.
- Crunchy snacks such as potato chips are also unhealthy in terms of oral health. These snacks contain starch, which readily gets stuck between gums.
Beverages Promoting Oral Health
- Milk is rich in calcium, proteins and Vitamin D all of which are good for your teeth. There are a variety of options when it comes to milk and milk products; Skimmed milk can be the choice of drink for those looking out for low-fat options. For others who are lactose intolerant or simply do not like the taste, they can opt for organic flavored milk, such as organic chocolate milk.
- Fruit juice that is derived from fresh fruits, with no added components is also a good beverage option for your teeth. While opting for fresh juices, try to again avoid acidic drinks.
- Water is a drink that is beneficial to your health in all terms. They help to keep you hydrated and when it comes to your teeth, they act as a good natural rinse. They brush teeth and gums and in the process rinses the residues stuck there. Fluoridated water is the best option for your oral health.
- Clear teas such as green tea can both rinse and stimulate the production of saliva. When having clear teas make sure not to add sweeteners or other additives that can spoil your oral health.
Beverages Deterring Oral Health
- Alcohol is one beverage, which hurts your teeth and gums. Alcohol has a drying effect, thereby reducing the production of saliva. Since saliva is vital to protect your teeth by washing away bacteria, reduction in production can lead to serious damage.
- Sparkling water has a pH level, which is higher than most acidic drinks and this can further deteriorate the condition of your enamel. Although they seem relatively safe, studies state otherwise.
- Sugary drinks are confirmed as being very bad for oral health in all aspects. Soft drinks and bottled fruit juices are packed with sugar and can seriously deteriorate your oral health. Soft drinks are also high on acidity, which is another disadvantage; the sugar-free alternatives of soda are also not ideal due to their high levels of acidity.
- Tea is another drink, which has potential disadvantages. They stain the teeth and contribute to decay. Iced tea is the worst option as they have a high pH and are very high on sugar. Studies have also confirmed that some iced teas are worse than certain soft drinks due to the harmful components.
Eating healthy is a determining factor in good oral health. There are a variety of nutrient-rich meals that promote healthy teeth and gums and there are other food items that do the opposite. Hence it is important to consume healthier food and beverages.