Oral Health Tips for Sparkling Teeth: 9 Things Your Dentist Wants You to Know
Everyone knows how to brush their teeth. But if you feel like you could be doing more for your oral hygiene, we have some professional advice for you. Here’s what a dentist wants you to know about maintaining healthy teeth, avoiding gum-related problems and keeping your breath fresh all day long.
Following good dental hygiene is critical to preventing cavities and tooth decay. According to data collected by the World Health Organisation, somewhere between 60 to 90 percent of children are affected by dental cavities and almost all adults have at least one dental cavity. Common problems like plaque accumulation, minor toothaches and cavities might feel trivial right now but they can end up being incredibly painful in the long run. It is important to understand that teeth are an essential part of our skeletal system and neglecting their well-being may give birth to a wide variety of health-related issues-ranging from common problems like toothache to more serious ones like oral cancer.
It is also unsightly to have poor oral hygiene as it reflects on your outside appearance. Dental problems like yellowing teeth, bad breath and bleeding gums are not just bad for your physical health but can also harm your self-confidence, thus affecting your mental health.
With a subject as varied as this, it is natural to have a lot of questions. Which is why we got in touch with Dr Namrata Jadwani Takhtani, MDS, cosmetic dentistry and prosthodontist, seeking answers; and here they are.
What are some easy ways to avoid bad breath?
Bad breath is one of the most common dental problems. “It not only affects your physical and mental health but can also signal more deep-rooted health-related issues,” says Dr Namrata. The easiest ways to avoid bad breath are:
- Drink more water
- Don’t skip out on tongue cleaning
- Use a good-quality mouthwash twice a day
- Try sugar-free chewing gum
- Avoid consuming foods like onion and garlic
- If you are a regular coffee drinker, sip it with the help of a straw and remember to drink a glass of water after. This will also prevent your teeth from getting stained.
What are some of the most common dental problems and how can we deal with them?
According to Dr Namrata, some of the most common dental problems and their solutions are as follows:
- Bleeding gums: They are usually a sign of inflamed gums. A simple dental clean-up twice a year should take care of it.
- Yellow and stained teeth: Irregular brushing and lifestyle choices like smoking can lead to stained teeth. Teeth whitening has over time become a go to grooming procedure especially prior to important occasions. They are usually done in a single sitting and can significantly whiten your teeth.
- Tooth pain: It usually happens because of one of the two common reasons:
1. Cavities: A cavity forms when a tooth decays and sometimes it’s hard to spot them because they might not always hurt. The treatment is a tooth coloured filling that’s done once the decay is removed.
2. Root Canal: When the cavity has been neglected for too long, it leads to the decay reaching the nerve. This can be fixed with a routine root canal procedure.
What are the key catalysts for bad bacteria growth?
“The main reason behind bad bacteria growth are acids,” says Dr Namrata. And the chief catalysts for excessive acid secretion are:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Sugary, starchy and sticky food items that are often acidic in nature.
- Dry mouth, which occurs when salivary glands in your mouth don’t produce enough saliva, resulting in a continuous parched feeling.
- Systematic issues like acidity or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Certain salivary factors
Do we have good bacteria in our mouth?
“We definitely do have some good bacteria in the mouth like Streptococcus Salivarius K12,” says Dr Namrata. “And the intake of probiotics which contain lactobacillus greatly improve the environment of your mouth along with promoting good gut health,” she adds.
How often should someone brush their teeth?
It’s imperative to brush your teeth twice a day—once in the morning before having breakfast and once at night post all meals prior to sleeping. “If you’re someone who likes to brush post meals, do it 30 minutes after your meal—because the acids in food tend to spread with brushing and erode the enamel (the top layer of the tooth),” says Dr Namrata.
What are the best and worst food items for your teeth?
Food items you should eat:
- Nuts and seeds that are rich in calcium and Vitamin-D
- Dairy products as they are rich in Vitamin-K2, a nutrient that is vital for healthy teeth.
- Crunchy foods like celery and carrots help strengthen your teeth and also increase saliva production.
- Leafy green vegetables as they help your mouth produce more good bacteria.
- Vitamin-C rich fruits like strawberries and grapefruit as they strengthen the blood vessels and connective tissues within the mouth
Food items you should avoid:
- Sticky food items like candy and caramel can lead to cavities and tooth decay as they feed sugar to the oral microbiome
- Similarly, sugary drinks should be generally avoided. This includes ‘Zero sugar’ carbonated drinks and energy drinks that are advertised as health supplements.
- Starchy foods like potato chips can also cause cavities because the refined carbohydrates found in them convert to sugar very quickly.
- Tea and coffee as they can stain your teeth
- Acidic beverages like wine and non-diluted lemon juice can erode your enamel
How can someone take good care of their gums?
Taking good care of your gums is relatively fuss-free. Here’s an easy guide Dr Namrata recommends:
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Don’t forget to floss everyday
- Regularly rinse your mouth with salt and warm water as it helps balance pH levels inside your mouth.
- Invest in semi-annual dental clean-ups to avoid any tartar formation. Tartar is a mixture of plaque and minerals from your saliva that harden overtime and can lead to receding gums.
- Use a good quality mouthwash regularly
- Avoid smoking cigarettes
What ingredients should someone look out for in a toothpaste? And what should they avoid?
“The key ingredient to look out for in a toothpaste is fluoride—it’s an anti-cavity ingredient, usually available in the form of sodium fluoride and stannous fluoride,” says Dr Namrata. Keep the following things in mind while picking a toothpaste:
- Look out for potassium nitrate if you have sensitive teeth
- Hydrogen peroxide if you want whiter teeth
- Calcium carbonate for stain removal
“Avoid using any charcoal toothpaste as that’s very abrasive for your teeth and can wear them out,” says Dr Namrata. “One should also avoid the trending natural fluoride free toothpastes because they don’t act effectively,” she adds.
How often should someone see a dentist?
Dr Namrata says that it’s important to visit your dentist every 6 months for a regular check up and clean up. And if you require special care, consult your dentist accordingly.
“Visiting the dentist twice a year is also the most economical option because you avoid extensive (and therefore expensive) procedures due to early detection,” she adds.
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