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Helpful Hints for Healthy Teeth

written by Vidya Sury September 6, 2010

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Don’t believe everything you hear about what is good or bad for your pearly whites. Remember how your mother used to tell you almost everything you did was “bad for your teeth?” You may have forgotten some of her warnings. And some things she said might not be as bad as you think. Read on.

The function of teeth is to chew food — and to some extent, help you talk and form words. What you should NOT use teeth for are:

    * Pliers
    * Coat hangers
    * Ice crushers
    * Potato chip bag openers
    * Knot looseners
    * Fork tine straighteners
    * Chomping frozen candy bars full of caramel or frozen nuts

There are blenders with special blades to crush ice, you know!

Whiteners: Good or Bad?

The new whitening rage follows a continuum of products. The strips and other over-the-counter whiteners do not damage teeth or burn gum tissue. The trays to hold the peroxide solution may can contain an acidic, unbuffered solution, which could damage enamel.

The best tray-type lightening is provided by the dentist, who can control the solution and timing. But whitening is not really a color change, but a brightness or value change. The focus should be on keeping teeth healthy. 

Don’t Overbrush Your Teeth

Your brush must be firm enough to remove plaque but not tear up gums. “Soft” brushes are recommended by most dentists. Do discard your brush after three months.

If you use an electric brush,  a rotary head type that you take from tooth to tooth rather than cruising across the teeth with it is best

Water picks can drive bacteria back up into the gums, which can lead to it lodging in other parts of the body, such as the heart. The picks do not remove plaque. They are okay for a gentle lavage before or after brushing. Do not turn it on like a fire hose.

Similarly, prebrush rinses are no substitute for brushing. These methods should be used together.

Toothpaste is an abrasive, with some therapeutic additions, namely fluoride, which strengthens enamel and can shore up little breaches in it before cavities develop.

Brushing itself should be gentle, with the bristles at a 45-degree angle to the teeth. Swish gently with an oval motion rather than raking the brush side to side across the teeth.

What about the ever-popular floss?

The easy-glide type is best, used daily, of course. Since the dentin between teeth is not fully mineralized with hard enamel, don’t saw away like mad. 

Dental Destroyers

Homemade drugs full of industrial chemicals, such as methamphetamine (meth), can ruin teeth in short order. There is even a term for the rottenness and missing teeth — meth mouth. Muriatic acid, used to strip cement floors, is one ingredient. These drugs also cause dry mouth, leaving the teeth open to plaque. And the users tend to be tense and grind their teeth. Not to mention not being too picky about brushing, flossing, and taking care of their teeth.

But even some more respectable drugs, such as tetracycline and other full-spectrum antibotics, can cause discoloration in permanent teeth if kids take them before age 10 – and now they are finding that adults can get color changes from some adult acne antibiotics, too.

Discuss antibiotics with your dentist and doctor. Sometimes, the dentist can prescribe a high-content fluoride rinse, which helps some.

Other drugs may cause dry mouth or bleeding gums.

Nicotine, of course, stains teeth, but there are also some chemicals in the burning paper that can cause discoloration, and the heat in a smoker’s mouth can impede circulation and encourage gum disease.

Although it is not usually the first problem with bulimia that comes to mind, people who binge and vomit also eat away their teeth with acid.

Also – lemon chewing is out! 

Drinking bottled water exclusively can also be a problem. Check to see if it’s fluoridated. If it doesn’t say, call the company.

And researchers have now found that obesity and insulin resistance may be linked to periodontal disease. So stick with your healthy eating to stay out of the dental chair.

What About Sugar?

What was Mom’s biggest refrain about teeth? Sugar! “You will ruin those beautiful teeth!”

Sugar, however, is not the problem. How long the sugar stays on teeth is the problem. Given enough time, the bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar and excrete damaging acid that can eat through enamel forming cavities.

So if you eat candy, brush afterward if you can.

Or chew some gum! Amazingly, even sugar gum is not a big no-no for teeth. It churns up lots of saliva, which carries off the sugar in short order.

Some sugarless gum, containing xylitol, is even a good decay-preventer.

Soda, too, is not too much of a tooth problem, if you brush or drink water afterward. In fact, the diet kind contains more phosphates than can be acidic to enamel and may be a bigger threat to your choppers than regular.

Dark chocolate is not too bad for your teeth, either.

Well, that makes it all worthwhile!

That – and not having to crush all that ice anymore.

Thank you WebMD

You might find this useful: 6 tips for beautiful teeth

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Stay healthy!
Vidya Sury

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