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10 tips to keep your teeth strong and healthy as you get older

14 Feb 2017

1. Nutrition

What you put in your mouth can affect the health of your teeth and gums. Choosing the right foods early in life can be especially beneficial throughout your whole life. Your mouth is full of germs and bacteria (plaque) that thrive on the starches and sugars produced that are found in the food you eat. When you don’t remove the plaque an acid is produced that attacks your enamel and eventually causes decay. Choosing foods that are low in sugar and starches will reduce the acids produced.

2. Floss
Whichever ‘gizmo’, gadget or bit of tape you choose to use – will do nothing to reduce your risk of tooth decay or gum disease if you don’t use it properly. Majority of the population that do use floss on a regular basis do not use it correctly. I liken bad flossing to trying to clean a pool with a scrubbing brush. If you don’t clean between the teeth, you’re cleaning only 60 per cent of the tooth’s surface. To effectively remove plaque, you need to hook the floss like a C around the tooth, so it hooks out the plaque from between the contact points of the teeth. The dental profession has been pushing it for 20 years, yet we’ve got only five per cent of the population to do it — because it’s fiddly. Most dentists recommend interdental brushes — small brushes that can get right below the gum line. They are much easier to use, and get into the curves of teeth so it’s easier to clean each side of the tooth.

3. Regular dental visits
There are two reasons people do not visit their dentist regularly. One is ‘The Nervous Patient’. A bad experience and fear of injections are the two most common reasons for this nervousness. And then there’s the ‘patient dreading the pain to hip pocket’. However, spending money on maintaining your oral health now will save you big bucks in the end, and your teeth will thank you for it by staying put!

4. Grinding and clenching
You have a 3 o’clock deadline and your boss just throws more work at you. Clench! You’re concentrating so hard on that cross-stitch you’re going cross-eyed. Grind! Now not all of us know that we do this. Sometimes it happens while you sleep. Clenching and grinding can make you wake up in the morning with sore facial muscles and can also crack, chip and wear your teeth. Not many people know that your dentist can help with this. If you experience any of these problems, ask you dentist how they can help.

5. Smoking
You don’t have to be a genius to know that smoking is bad for your general health but did you know that smoking reduces the blood flow to your mouth, resulting in greater chances of developing periodontal disease and oral cancers. Not only that, if you are a smoker and have any type of surgery or dental treatment, smoking reduces the ability of revasularisation (healing) of bone and soft tissue. Plus don’t forget the bad breath, stinky clothes and yellow teeth.

6. Chewing Gum
If you watch television you know that chewing gum after meals produces saliva flow, but did you know that chewing gum can actually improve your alertness by 10% by improving blood flow to the brain according to a recent study in Japan. So besides neutralizing acids and cleaning your teeth, chewing gum improves motor skills. Happy chewing!

7. Soften your toothbrush
You should never use a hard toothbrush. Hard toothbrushes cause abrasion to your enamel, which then exposes your dentine making your teeth appear more yellowish. Rinse your toothbrush with hot water before using it to soften the bristles.

8. Change your toothbrush
Changing your toothbrush is vital in keeping your oral hygiene in a good condition. Toothbrushes should be changed every 3 months due to the ineffectiveness after this. Also your mouth is full of bacteria, which transfers to your toothbrush after every use. And did you know that 80% of bacteria found in your mouth is not on your teeth? They are in the hard to reach places and soft tissues in your mouth such as the tongue cheeks and gums.

9. Use a straw
When drinking every dentist’s worst nightmare – soft drink or soda; use a straw. Using a straw will bypass the acid to your teeth. You still need to rinse your mouth with water after drinking these nasties, and if you are regular consumer you should use fluoride toothpaste and see your dentist for regular check-ups.

10. Limit snacks
If you eat 3 meals a day with no carbohydrates or sugar in between meals, then no need to read on. However, if you are like most of the population and cant resist a bit of snacking between meals then continue reading. The more snacks with sugar you have between meals (fruit, juice, sugared coffee, soft drinks etc.) the more holes you are likely to get. If you are a compulsive grazer it is important that you remember these 10 keys to keeping your teeth strong.

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