A great smile is often the first thing we notice when we meet someone new, but did you know our teeth and gums can also be a good indication of our general health habits?
Tooth decay and gum disease can occur at any age and are caused by a build up of plaque in the mouth. The bacteria in plaque produce acid which attacks the surface of the teeth, causing tooth decay. Untreated dental disease can lead to serious health problems such as infection, damage to bone or nerve and tooth loss. To protect your teeth and gums, consider these dental hygiene tips:
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day after meals is the simplest way to help keep your teeth plaque free. Good technique is important—brush with short back and forth motions and remember to brush your tongue. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months and make sure flossing is a part of your daily routine. Flossing allows you to clean the tight spaces between your teeth and under your gumline that your toothbrush can’t reach.
Australian Medical Association President, Dr. Steve Hambleton, suggests poor diet is a major contributor to tooth erosion, with soft drink and fruit juice being very significant. ‘Sugary foods, such as sweets and lollies, fruit snack bars, sugary soft drinks and juices, all contribute to dental decay as sugar feeds the destructive bacteria in the mouth, which then puts acid on teeth,’ he said.
Stick to high calcium foods such as cheese, milk, plain yogurt, leafy greens and almonds, as well as protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish, milk and eggs which are the best sources of phosphorus. The American Dental Association suggests both of these minerals play a critical role in dental health by protecting and rebuilding tooth enamel.
Schedule regular check-ups
Visiting your dentist once or twice a year for a clean and check-up is recommended to keep your teeth and gums healthy. If you have concerns such as swollen or bleeding gums, bad breath or loose teeth, early detection may help save teeth that are at risk from gum disease and other conditions.