Don't Dread the Dentist: 6 Tips for Healthy Teeth
Regular brushing and flossing keep teeth healthy, we all know this and since childhood has been repeatedly told to avoid sugary foods and to brush our teeth every morning and night.
However, there are a number of additional changes you can make to your diet and dental routine which will keep your teeth healthier and improve your smile from the inside out.
Regular cups of tea (providing you skip the sugar) can actually be great for keeping your teeth clean. Polyphenols, which are compounds found in black and green teas, have been shown to slow the growth of bacteria on the teeth and gums. The anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of tea can also help to reduce tooth sensitivity and promote general wellbeing.
Try following meals with a sugarless chewing gum. Not only will gum improve your breath, it will increase saliva flow, which helps to clear away bacteria and food acids. The chewing motion can also help to dislodge leftover food bits and bacteria.
In Australia we are lucky to have access to community water fluoridation, as fluoride strengthens and maintains teeth, preventing decay. Because of this, rinsing your mouth with water after a meal or when out and about, is a simple practice that can protect against cavities and fight decay. So ensuring you get at least 8 glasses of water a day is something for which your teeth and body will thank you.
Try adding a mouthwash to your routine by following brushing and flossing with a 30-second rinse. Mouthwash is common, but many people still limit themselves by sticking to only brushing and flossing. Just 30 seconds of antibacterial mouthwash can help to clean the areas you miss in your regular routine, killing the bacteria on the tongue and the walls of your mouth, and, particularly, the bacteria along the gum line which causes gingivitis.
Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth and has been shown to assist in teeth retention. The recommended daily intake for calcium is 1050 mg, which is around 3 glasses of milk, yet according to the most recent Australian Health Survey (2011-12), the average calcium intake is only 805 mg a day. Foods high in calcium include dairy products, brown rice, salmon, beans, broccoli, and oranges. Dairy products which are rich in calcium have also been shown to neutralise and the lower acid levels in the mouth.
Like calcium, vitamin D is vital in the maintaining of healthy teeth, as it promotes the body’s absorption of calcium while regulating its balance. Natural sources of vitamin D in foods are few and far between, it is found in dairy products, eggs, oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), and is added to some cereals. The most accessible source of vitamin D is natural sunlight, and it is recommended you get between 10 and 30 minutes of sun exposure at least twice a week.
Extra tip for protecting teeth – Mouthguard:
If you or your children play sport regularly, a custom-fitted protective mouthguard is an important precaution for protecting teeth. Sporting accidents are among the most common forms of dental injury and every year thousands are treated for injuries like damaged and knocked out teeth, cut lips, and broken jaws, which could have been avoided or minimised by the wearing of a protective mouthguard. The Australian Dental Association strongly recommends asking your dentist about investing in a custom-fitted mouthguard, and purchasing one might help you to avoid future trips back!
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