3 best ways to protect your teeth

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3 best ways to protect your teeth

We may take for granted that our teeth will always be there for us as we age.  We know aging is inevitable but our teeth and gums age right along with us.  However there are precautions each of us can take to protect and preserve our teeth keeping your smile bright and healthy into the golden years.

When following and paying attention to certain changes that may occur in your mouth by getting regular dental visits and staying free of disease, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to keep your own teeth for the rest of your life. 

Most of us are likely doing the standard care dentists advise us to do – brush and floss your teeth at least twice daily and see your dentist every six months for a checkup and regular cleaning.  But there are other unique tips we should also be using making sure our pearly whites will be with us our entire life. 

Here are 3 ways to begin now:

1. Preserve tooth enamel

            Tooth enamel is the shiny white part of our teeth that we actually see and is the toughest substance in the human body.  When it is fully formed, it contains no vessels or nerves, so any tooth pain one experiences is not due to feeling the enamel.

            As the years go by, our tooth enamel can begin to wear away.  Tooth enamel has the important job of protecting your teeth from damage and allows you to eat foods without hurting your teeth.  When the protective enamel has worn away, it makes the teeth more prone to stains, pain, sensitivity, and other problems.

            The usual suspects of wearing away tooth enamel include sugar, candy, highly acidic foods, carbonated beverages (both sweetened and diet), ignoring teeth cleanings, and teeth grinding. 

     To help preserve tooth enamel follow these steps:

·      Avoid acidic beverages (soda, fruit juices, sports drinks, alcohol, and coffee) as they are very harsh on tooth enamel.  If you do drink them, use a straw so they bypass your teeth.  Drink them only at mealtimes to minimize the “acid attacks” your teeth endure each day. 

·      Finish meals with milk or cheese to neutralize acids

·      Wait about an hour after eating a meal or having an acidic drink as the acid from them can temporarily soften the enamel and brushing right away after a meal can actually brush away some of the enamel

·      Use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash and drink water that is fluoridated.  Fluoride makes teeth more resistant to acid.

·      Brush teeth gently in a circular motion with a soft-bristle brush and avoid being too aggressive or scrubbing your teeth

2. Prevent receding gums

Unfortunately, for many of us, receding gums is a natural part of aging.  However, certain factors such as brushing too aggressively, gum disease, grinding teeth during the night, poor oral health, trauma to gum tissue, and smoking can contribute to the problem.

If receding gums are left untreated, the supporting tissue and bone structures of the teeth can be severely damaged and may ultimately result in tooth loss. 

Ways to help prevent “getting too long in the tooth,” include brushing and flossing twice a day and using a daily antimicrobial, antiseptic, fluoride-containing mouthwash.  Smoking is no friend to your gums as it can contribute to chronic gum infection, which encourages bone loss and gum loss.  This can lead to teeth that are loosened which increase the likelihood of tooth loss. 

3. Preventing dry mouth

As the years go by, we begin to produce less saliva resulting in dry mouth. Saliva is a necessary component found within the mouth keeping it healthy.  It starts the process of digestions, helps neutralizes acid, fight off infection-causing bacteria, and controls bad breath.  If you ignore dry mouth, it can put you at risk for oral health problems such as tooth decay, gingivitis, and bad breath. Dry mouth may also cause a reduction in your saliva’s ability to help repair and remineralize weak tooth enamel. 

Stimulation of saliva can be achieved by doing the following:

·      Chew sugar-free gum or use sugar-free candies

·      Limiting caffeine intake as it can be drying to the mouth

·      Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol and try a mouthwash designed for dry mouth

·      Stop using tobacco products

·      Sip water regularly

·      Try over-the-counter saliva substitutes

·      Avoid using over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants

·      Breathe through your nose and not your mouth

·      Add moisture to the air at night with a room humidifier

·      Some medications may cause dry mouth – check with your pharmacist or doctor