How to Maintain Good Dental Hygiene
There’s a surprising (and delicious) new way to fight off tooth decay: eating cheese! published in the journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) suggests that consuming dairy products like milk, yogurt and—yes!—cheese may help protect your teeth against cavities.
Researchers came to this conclusion after studying the pH levels in the mouths of their subjects before and after they had consumed cheese, milk or sugar-free yogurt. pH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity. Tooth erosion is caused by acidity in the mouth. In general, a pH level lower than 5.5 puts a person at risk for tooth erosion. An increase in pH means an increase in alkalinity or a decrease in acidity. According to the study’s lead author, Vipul Yadav, MDS, “The higher the pH level is above 5.5, the lower the chance of developing cavities.”
The study divided its subjects into three groups giving cheddar cheese to one group, milk to the second and yogurt to the third group. Each subject consumed the dairy product for three minutes and then swished their mouth with water. The pH levels in their mouths were measured at 10, 20 and 30 minutes afterwards.
No changes in the acidity levels occurred in those who drank milk or ate sugar-free yogurt. But the pH levels in the mouths of those who ate cheese increased rapidly at each time interval. According to the study authors, this suggests that cheese possesses anti-cavity properties.
Regardless of what you eat, it is important to have regular dental care habits including daily brushing and flossing. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the key oral health issues for Americans are tooth decay and gum disease. In fact:
• More than a quarter of American kids between two and five, and half of those between the ages 12 and 15 suffer from tooth decay.
• A new CDC report indicates that nearly half (47.4%) of American adults may suffer from some form of gum disease.
• One in four adults 65 or older has lost all of their teeth.
Things don’t have to be this way! Both tooth decay and gum disease can be prevented with good oral health habits that are surprisingly simple.
Brushing your teeth twice a day is our minimum recommendation. Ideally, you would brush once after you wake up, do it again before bedtime, and add a third brushing if you have eaten a sugary snack. Each brushing session should take you only two minutes. Take care to brush gently to avoid irritating the gums or eroding tooth enamel. A soft-bristled toothbrush that is rinsed after every use and changed often is also important to the maintenance of your smile.
Did you know that only half of Americans floss on a daily basis? And 18% say they don’t floss at all? Yikes! Flossing is just as important to your dental hygiene as brushing. Simply flossing once a day will keep your teeth healthy. Instead of sawing back and forth with the thread of floss, try starting at the top of the tooth and slide the floss downward. Then move on to the next tooth. Make certain not to reuse the same part of the floss, as it is covered with bacteria after just one use.
Chew on This
The can be an effective way to prevent cavities, as the increased salivary flow washes away plaque and bacteria from your teeth. So grab a pack of gum (opt for sugar-free over anything sweetened with sucrose) and start working that jaw!
Watch What You Eat (and Drink!)
Unfortunately, dentists have long been right in asserting that sweets and sugary beverages are harmful to your teeth. One revealed that drinking diet soda may be as harmful to your smile as smoking methamphetamine or crack cocaine. This is due to the high amount of citric acid present in soda, which can lead to the same level of tooth erosion and decay as being a long-time drug user.
Try swapping your daily soda for some iced tea. Black tea has been proven to contain compounds that combat the bacteria that causes cavities. Tea is also a great source of fluoride–a substance added to toothpaste and water to keep teeth healthy.
A cup of tea or a piece of cheese may help you keep tooth decay under control, but be sure to also visit your dentist regularly to ensure that any dental hygiene problems are detected early and treated promptly.