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Good nutrition is essential for good health, and that includes the health of your teeth. Let's look at the link between your diet and oral health - and what you can do to improve both.
Tooth decay and cavities are caused by acid that is produced by interactions between oral bacteria and food deposits left on your teeth. Certain foods, especially sugary, starchy, and sticky snacks, are linked to higher levels of such acid-causing bacteria. Additionally, poor nutrition can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to other health problems, including gum disease.
Here is some fun dental trivia.....
* The average human produces 25,000 quarts of saliva (spit) in a lifetime. That is enough to fill 2 swimming pools!
* The Statue of Liberty's mouth is 3 feet wide.
The toothbrush has been around for nearly 5,000 years. "Chew sticks," bone, wood, ivory and hog bristles all make up the far-reaching history of this instrument of oral health. The nylon bristled toothbrush that we now use was invented in 1938. Today, battery powered toothbrushes are available in addition to manual toothbrushes.
"Keep a stiff upper lip" or "get a grip!" That's often the advice we get -and give- on how to cope with stress. If you take it literally, the result could be grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. It's called bruxism, and often it happens as you sleep.
Teeth grinding can be caused not just by stress and anxiety but by sleep disorders, abnormal bite or teeth that are missing or crooked. The symptoms of teeth grinding include:
* dull headaches
* jaw soreness
* teeth that are painful or loose
* fractured teeth
Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth during sleep. If stress is the cause, you need to find a way to relax. Meditation, counseling, and excercise can all help reduce stress and anxiety.
Teeth grinding is also common in children. However, because their teeth and jaws change and grow so quickly it is not usually a damaging habit that requires treatment and most outgrow it by adolescence. Although in adults teeth grinding is often the result of stress, the same is not always true with children. Other possible causes of teeth grinding in children include:
* irritation in the mouth
* misaligned teeth
If you are concerned about teeth grinding, ask your dentist about potential causes and, if necessary, the possible solutions.
Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. The chewing of sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva, which washes away food and other debris, neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and provides disease-fighting substances throughout the mouth. Increased saliva flow also carries with it more calcium and phosphates to help strengthen tooth enamel.
The only varieties of gum with the ADA Seal are sugarless. They are sweetened by non-cavity causing sweeteners such as aspartame, xylitol, sorbitol or mannitol. Of course, chewing sugar-containing gum increases saliva flow, too, but it also contains sugar which is used by plaque bacteria to produce decay-causing acids. Further research needs to be done to determine the effects of chewing sugar-containing gum on tooth decay.
Don't let chewing sugarless gum replace brushing and flossing. It's not a substitute. The ADA still recommends brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning plaque from between your teeth once a day with dental floss or other interdental cleaners.
Each February, the American Dental Association sponsors National Childrens Dental Health Month (NCDHM) to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. NCDHM provides messages and materials that have reached millions of children across the country.
Southern Illinois Smiles participates in NCDHM by hosting several field trips for children in our community. We at Southern Illinois Smiles feel that good habits at an early age will benefit the children in our community. We recommend scheduling regular dental visits to help children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
1) CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
2) Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
3) Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
4) Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
5) Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
6) If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
And finally, never share toothbrushes with another person, and do not store your toothbrush where it can touch another person's toothbrush. This can lead to cross-contamination and the spreading of illness.
Tips for Brushing Your Teeth
Flashing your best, most healthy smile means brushing well and often. In fact, the American Dental Association recommends brushing teeth twice a day for dental hygiene and to help promote dental health. Make the most of that time by giving your brushing technique a refresher.
Tooth Brushing Technique
You've been brushing your teeth your whole life, but are you getting the most from your efforts? The following techniques will help you get the most thorough clean.
1) On the outer and inner surfaces, brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle in short half-tooth-wide strokes against the gum line.
2) On chewing surfaces, hold the brush flat and brush back and forth.
3) On inside surfaces of front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and use gentle up and down strokes with toe of brush.
4) Brush the tongue in a back-to-front sweeping motion to remove food particles and freshen your mouth.
Remember to spend at least 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth, adding up to two minutes each time you brush.
Choose the Right Toothpaste
Colgate and Crest toothpastes contain flouride, which helps strengthen weak spots and prevent tooth cavities. And whether you're looking for tarter protection, a rush of flavor, or dentist-inspired protection, there is a toothpaste that's right for you.
Change Your Toothbrush
Most dental professionals recommend replacing your toothbrush every three months. To remind yourself, write the date you should change your toothbrush in permanent marker on the handle.
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