Caring for our teeth is an important part of our health routine, especially as we get older. We only get two sets of teeth in our lives, so looking after them should be a priority, but this isn't always easy as there are so many tempting treats around us that can damage the enamel and lead to tooth decay. What's more, you may be treating your teeth badly in other ways without even knowing it.
Below are some of the habits to take up if you want to maintain a healthy smile in the long term.
It might sound like this is the right thing to do, as brushing the teeth removes bacteria that can lead to tooth decay. However, research suggests that acidic foods and drinks can soften tooth enamel, so brushing right after exposure to acidic foods can increase the chances of enamel erosion, resulting in tooth damage and pain. Instead, after eating wait about an hour before you brush.
This may sound healthy and, as an energy dense food and a great source of fibre, it's an ideal snack to eat on the go. Be aware, however, that dried fruit contains highly concentrated amounts of sugar, and what's more, can remain stuck to teeth for several hours, giving bacteria a large window in which to attack your teeth and gums. To protect your teeth, make sure you brush your teeth an hour or so after eating dried fruit, and floss as well to get those sneaky bits of raisin out.
Sugary snacks and sweets may taste good but they play havoc with tooth enamel. Sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth and enables plaque to form on your teeth. Dentists actually advise eating all your sweets at once rather than over several hours, but that's not an excuse to have a huge binge! After enjoying a treat you should also wait half an hour and then brush your teeth to get rid of the harmful bacteria. If you can't brush, chew sugar free gum or eat something alkaline, such as cheese, to neutralise the acid in your mouth.
Drinking fizzy drinks is bad for your teeth due to the huge sugar content, but if you use a a straw, studies show this can help minimise the damage. Ideally the straw should be positioned towards the back of the mouth and not against the teeth. Getting in the habit of doing this will limit the amount of time these beverages are in contact with your teeth, thereby helping to reduce dental damage.
Our teeth are hard-wearing and serve us well, however many people rely on their teeth to perform numerous odd tasks such as opening a bottle, tearing open a bag of crisps or ripping a price tag from a piece of clothing. Teeth may be sturdy but these tasks can be traumatizing and place a great deal of strain on dental enamel, even causing it to chip off or fracture.
Avoid using your teeth for these tasks, and you will be able to maintain good dental health for a long time to come.