We are beginning to realize that your mouth health reflects your overall health, and vice versa. Far from being a stand-alone issue, the problems you experience with your teeth and gums can be symptoms of other, underlying health concerns elsewhere in your body. Conversely, how you treat your chompers can affect the rest of your health.
For that reason, it is more important than ever to make sure that your mouth is healthy, and the best way to do that is to be proactive about taking care of your teeth. We will be discussing five ways that you can protect your tooth health, which will also help your body maintain overall health.
1. Brush and Floss!
Duh. Youâ€™ve only been hearing that since you were too small to really understand what it meant, but the importance of daily brushing and flossing can not be overstressed. Even as adults who should know better, we often skip flossing because itâ€™s too painful, time-consuming, or boring.
Why are brushing and flossing so critical to your health? Every day, bacteria grow in our mouths. During the day, saliva washes away much of it, but at night it happily multiplies in the warm, moist environment. At night, you produce less saliva, so the bacteria are less likely to be washed away. The more bacteria you allow to settle on to your teeth and gums, the more likely you are to develop cavities (which is why those bacteria are so often called â€œcavity bugsâ€ by your friendly dentist), halitosis (bad breath), and gum disease.
Brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time â€“ in the morning and before bed â€“ is a way of removing the bacteria and keeping your mouth cleaner. Use a soft manual toothbrush or electric brush and gently scrub your teeth and gums in a circular motion, being careful to get all the way back to your back teeth
Flossing is just as necessary as brushing. Your toothbrush can remove bacteria and plaque from the outside surfaces of your teeth, but most cavities start as food decays between your teeth, and abscesses, other infections, and gum disease can be triggered by these unattended cavities. Flossing daily in the evening scrapes out bits of food that would otherwise feed the bacteria in your mouth. If you havenâ€™t flossed in a while, your gums might bleed a little, but after a couple of days of gentle flossing, your gums will toughen up.
There are a variety of flosses available, as well, and you can pick exactly the type you like best and that feels good in your mouth. Not only can you choose from the old-fashioned waxed and unwaxed flosses, you can also select a dental tape, which is like a flat ribbon â€“ perfect for sliding between close-set teeth â€“ or single use flossing gadgets where the floss is already tightly attached to a Y-shaped handle, allowing you to easily maneuver the floss one-handed through your mouth. Floss also comes covered in mint to keep your breath smelling bright and fresh. It only takes about 30 seconds to efficiently floss your teeth by sliding the floss side to side and up and down along each of the inner edges between your teeth. Again, donâ€™t miss the back edges of your wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are often overlooked and under-flossed, and the neglect makes them prime candidates for decay and infection.
2. Eat Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables in their whole form â€“ with skin on, if appropriate â€“ provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients vital to your bodyâ€™s overall health. Crunching on apples and carrots also keeps your teeth in top form, as long as the apples and carrots arenâ€™t also sticking around between your teeth at night. Eating deep, leafy greens such as kale, chard, and spinach also provide calcium, which is essential for bone mass. Bone mass and exercise help your teeth in a way weâ€™ll talk about in just a moment.
3. Stay Away From Sugary Foods
You know you should stay away from sweets, as sugar is bacteriaâ€™s favorite fuel and it doesnâ€™t do your body any good whatsoever. Since itâ€™s nearly impossible to abstain completely, extra brushing after eating sugary foods can help you get fewer cavities.
4. Regular Exercise
It may be surprising that exercise can benefit your teeth and gums, but research has shown that exercise increases bone mass. When you begin to suffer from osteoporosis, or a gradual loss of bone density that causes bones to become porous and more fragile, your body will steal calcium, phosphorous, and other minerals from your mouth and jaw in order to maintain the support structure of your skeleton. You might notice that your gums are receding and bleeding during brushing. Your jaw can also become severely weakened.
Exercise and a diet that includes lots of the necessary nutrients â€“ like calcium and phosphorous â€“ that support proper bone density will also keep your mouth happy. Make sure you also get a good dose of Vitamin D, which you can either take in through sunlight or with supplements.
5. Proper Orthodontic Treatments
Visiting your dentist every six months for checkups should be a no-brainer, but getting wayward teeth into shape by visiting an orthodontist in Manhattan, Oceanside, or Duluth â€“ wherever you happen to live â€“ is also important. Teeth that grow in crookedly can be teeth that become unhealthy. Not only will the proper methods of straightening or correcting dental abnormalities help you love your smile, it will be easier to keep your teeth clean and healthy. Psychologically, if you love your smile, you are also more likely to be vigilant in keeping it white and bright.
Aside from crooked teeth, an orthodontist can help you solve other problems, such as tooth grinding and TMJ, both of which damage your teeth and jaw over time.
Tooth health doesnâ€™t just affect your mouth. It affects your entire body. Keeping your teeth and gums happy also means you are less prone to other illnesses and infections, and keeping your body happy and healthy means your mouth is less susceptible to disease.