TOP 10 TIPS FOR HEALTHY TEETH IN YOUR FAMILY
Maintaining healthy teeth and gums in your family is very important! Oral disease can cause pain, discomfort, affect your ability to eat and your self-confidence. Oral problems can also be complex and expensive to treat. There is also evidence to show an unhealthy mouth can interact and affect other disease in the body, such as heart disease. Follow the simple tips below to help to keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong for life.
- MAINTAIN A HEALTHY DIET.
Maintaining a healthy diet of nutritious foods is important for your overall health as well as your oral health. Eat a variety of foods from the five food groups every day: fruits, vegetables, grains and cereals, dairy, lean meat, fish and eggs. Dairy, such as cheese, milk or yoghurt, can have the additional benefit to help to strength your teeth and reduce the incidence of caries. Choose a plain milk over flavoured milk that has sugar added.
- REDUCE SUGARY FOODS AND DRINKS
Sugary foods can cause caries (decay) to occur in teeth. Limit your total intake of sugar and it is best to avoid sugary snacks in between meals. If you do have a sugar-containing food on an occasion, try to finish the food at once, rather than snacking on the food repeatedly over a period of time.
- REDUCE ACIDIC DRINKS
Beware of acidic foods and drinks such as fruit juice, sports drinks, soft drinks and wine which can cause erosion (dissolving of teeth). After having an acidic drink, rinse out soon afterwards with plain water or milk to neutralise the acidic. Also avoid brushing for 30 minutes after having an acidic drink. Tap water is always the best drink to maintain healthy teeth – it’s the cheapest drink as well!
- CHEW SUGAR-FREE GUM
Chewing sugar-free gum between meals can help to reduce your risk of decay by stimulating saliva flow. It can also help to fresh your breath and can be a healthy substitute for unnecessary snacking. It can also help to stimulate saliva and improve comfort for individuals who are experiencing a dry mouth.
- BRUSH TWICE A DAY
It is important for the health of your teeth and gums to brush your teeth twice daily. Always use a soft toothbrush as harder bristles can actually cause irreversible damage to your teeth and gums. Use a gentle circular motion in a systematic approach so you avoid missing any areas. Always use a fluoride-containing toothpaste (use a specialised low-fluoride children’s toothpaste for kids under 6 years old). Thorough brushing should take at least two minutes – time yourself to see how long you’re taking! Spit out the toothpaste but do not rinse afterwards so you can maintain the protection of the toothpaste in your mouth for longer.
- FLOSS ONCE A DAY
Brushing thoroughly only reaches about 60% of the tooth surfaces. The remaining areas can only be cleaned properly with flossing. Flossing daily is important to prevent decay occurring in between your teeth and to prevent the development of gum disease (loss of bone due to gum inflammation). Some individuals may benefit from other cleaning aids to clean in between your teeth, such as interproximal brushes. Your dentist will talk to your about these if they are suitable for you.
- HAVE REGULAR DENTAL CHECK UPS
Regular routine dental check ups are important to maintain a healthy mouth. Every comprehensive examination will involve: oral cancer screening, caries detection, periodontal (gum) assessment, assessment for infection or other pathologies and more. Regular check ups allows for early detection of dental problems, allowing for them to be treated before they become a bigger (and often more expensive) issue. Bringing your kids for regular check ups is also the best way to avoid children developing a fear for the dentist as this avoids the need for their first visit being an emergency visit when they are in pain and require urgent treatment! A dentist will also usually perform a professional scale and clean at a routine check up to remove any build up of calculus (tartar) which is important in maintain healthy gums. X-rays are usually part of a routine examination and should be taken at regular intervals to detect and diagnose dental problems.
- PROTECT YOUR TEETH DURING SPORTS
It is important to wear a professionally fitted custom mouthguard if you or your child plays a sport where there is a risk of contact injury to the teeth. Over-the-counter and “boil-and-bite” varieties of mouthguards do not offer adequate protection to the teeth as they are not designed to evenly distribute any contact forces to the mouth. The Australian Dental Association recommends for only a custom fitted mouthguard to be used for any high risk sports. Also, it is wise to learn about what to do if a tooth is knocked out or broken in an accident. It is key to seek dental advice as soon as possible (same day if possible) for any dental trauma.
- PROTECT YOUR TEETH FROM GRINDING
If you are someone who grinds or clenches their teeth when they are asleep, it is advisable for you to get a custom-fitted device to wear at night-time called an occlusal splint or a nightguard. A splint is similar to a mouthguard and is worn to prevent you from grinding your teeth shorter and putting cracks in your teeth from all the pressure of grinding. If you have a lot of treated teeth, such as with fillings, crowns and veneers, a splint can be advisable to increase the longevity of those restorations.
- QUIT SMOKING
Smoking can have major effects on an individual’s oral health. It is a major risk factor for the development of periodontal disease (gum disease). Continuing smoking can also reduce the success rate for treatment of periodontal disease. Smoking is also known to increase the chance of develop oral cancer. It can also stain your teeth and give your breath a bad odour. If you are interested in quitting smoking, ask your dentist for options and resources to help you achieve your goal.