5 Things You Can Do To Improve Oral Health
Guest post written by Iain Hoeltschi, Founder of Splash Orthodontics & Member of the British Dental Association.
Poor oral health has consequences beyond bad breath – it can contribute to a range of physical diseases such as cardiovascular disease, dementia, respiratory infections, and diabetes. It’s World Oral Health Day today, so what better time to brush up on ways you can improve your oral health?
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily with fluoride toothpaste.
Brushing before bed is especially important as it helps to prevent against plaque build-up, tooth decay and gum disease while you sleep. The way you brush is also important. Most dentists recommend an electronic toothbrush, as the oscillating movement is more effective at removing plaque. It’s better to use short strokes, brushing the outer side of the teeth first, followed by the inside and then the chewing side.
- Floss daily
Flossing is an essential component of a good oral hygiene routine. Dental floss removes plaque and prevents a plaque build-up, which can result in tartar and eventually gingivitis (gum disease).
Make sure you are brushing and flossing daily, as this is an essential component of preventing dental decay. For those with an aversion to standard flossing, I recommend using a water flosser (you can get them for £20-30 online) twice a day as an alternate method.
- Eat smart
What you eat affects your oral health, and in severe cases can lead to tooth decay, resulting in expensive dental bills! Tooth decay is caused by acid-producing bacteria in your mouth which grows from over-indulging on sugar and carbohydrates. Dried fruit, such as raisins or dried apricots, stick to teeth for much longer than other food types, allowing more time for oral bacteria to develop and grow. These bacteria live on the teeth in a biofilm called plaque. The acid slowly eats away at the tooth enamel, a thin layer of largely calcium that covers the tooth. Therefore, it’s also important to avoid foods high in sugar and acid such as citrus fruits and carbonated soft drinks, as these contain phosphoric and citric acids that wear away at enamel.
Timing is everything. It’s better to eat dried fruit, sweets and other sugary foods around mealtime as saliva production increases during meals and helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth. Saliva also and helps rinse away food particles. Limit between-meal snacks also. If you’re craving a snack, choose something nutritious such as carrots and hummus, apple slices dipped in peanut butter, or strawberries dipped in dark chocolate. You can also chew sugarless gum afterwards to increase saliva flow and wash out food and acid.
- Schedule regular dental check-ups and hygienist appointments
As mentioned, brushing and flossing daily is an essential component of preventing dental caries. Severe dental decay occurs when decay erodes the enamel of the tooth and reaches the dentin layer underneath. Once this occurs, you will need the cavity repaired with an amalgam filling or tooth-coloured resin metal to protect the sensitive layer of dentin. In more serious cases you may need a crown, root canal or extraction. The average individual should attend the dentist a minimum of once every 12 months so that your dentist can catch dental decay before it erodes through the enamel of your teeth and requires expensive surgery. If you have a history of dental decay or you smoke, you may need to attend the dentist more regularly.
- Stay away from tobacco
Smoking massively affects oral health, from creating bad breath to causing oral cancer. Cancer from smoking can include but is not limited to mouth, lip, tongue and pancreas cancer. Cigars, chewing tobacco and tobacco leaves are harsh on the surface of the teeth and can wear down the enamel. Furthermore, smoking stains teeth and diminishes your sense of taste. Smoking also lowers the strength of your immune system, limited the number of dental surgeries you can undergo.
These five simple steps will help you to improve your oral health. This will lower your dental bills and reduce your chances of catching various diseases including cancer.