Monday, November 22, 2010

End of the Year Dental Checklist –Healthy Tips for Your Teeth and Gums

Our mouths are bacteria-breeding grounds for cavities and gum disease. Tooth decay is the second most common health issue, falling just behind the common cold, which you may find surprising. Most Americans have their first cavity before the age of five. There are many reasons we develop cavities and gum issues, many of which are diet and lifestyle related, which is not surprising.

It is never too late and never early enough to harness control of your dental health. Here are six things you can do all-year-round to improve your dental health and prevent tooth and gum disease.

Brush and Floss Daily and Visit Your Dentist Twice a Year. You would be amazed how brushing and flossing keeps the cavities away and the dentists happy. So, let this serve as a reminder to brush and floss, every day. In addition, keep your calendar open twice a year for a routine, bi-annual check up and cleaning with your dentist. Semi-annual visits to the dentist are vital to maintaining good dental health. Teeth cleanings with a dental hygienist keep your smile bright, and check ups with your dentist are the best preventative measures. Do not wait until you feel pain to visit your dentist. No dental problem will disappear. As a matter of fact, it will only get worse.

Know the Difference Between Myth and Fact. Although diet, poor eating habits and too much sugar can increase your risk of cavities and decay, eating too many foods with high-fructose corn syrup and sugar are not the primary cause of cavities. The main cause is the pH balance in your mouth, which can be impacted by sugar. High acid levels and an acidic mouth lead to cavities, dental disease and bacterial growth. You can brush and floss all you like, but it is also important to neutralize pH balances in your mouth. Ask your dentist about treatments and products that promote healthy pH balance in the mouth and help minimize acid levels.

Food Balancing Act – Much on these Morsels.
You can promote a healthier pH balance in your mouth by eating certain foods, like: onions, celery, cheese, wasabi, shitake mushrooms and other food items, because they fight the bad bacteria that causes cavities. They may not be the tastiest foods, but they will make your teeth want to smile.

Hydrate with H20. Your body naturally craves water, because we are comprised of mostly water. So pay attention to your thirst and drink more water to keep up the production of saliva, fight bacteria and hydrate your gums. Drinking water is different from many “hydrating” drinks that contain a lot of sugar. Green tea has a lot of healthy anti-oxidants that fight bacteria and benefit your teeth and gums, without staining.

The Benefits of Xylitol.
There are benefits to eating, chewing or drinking products that contain Xylitol, which is a natural sweetener that’s found in plants and fruits. Xylitol adds a shield of protection against bacteria and acid, because it cannot be broken down by either. There are many smile-boosting benefits to Xylitol , because it protects teeth and does not allow bacteria to adhere to the surface of the teeth and create decay. Look for products that contain it and try to consume 6-11 grams per day in the form of select fruits, chewing gums, toothpastes, and mouthwashes.

Newsflash! Fatty Fish, Nuts May Prevent Gum Disease. Recent studies recently revealed that foods high in polyunsaturated fatty acids may reduce risk for periodontitis. This new study released by WebMD suggests that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as salmon and nuts, may help prevent gum disease or periodontitis. Periodontitis is a common type of gum disease in which the gum tissue separates from the teeth and allows bacteria to build up and leads to a condition that can lead to bone and tooth loss. Researchers found that people whose diets were rich in PUFAs were as much as 30% less likely to have gum disease than those who ate little or none of this type of fat.

So, check your dental health checklist and make sure you follow these six steps for healthier teeth and gums. American Dental Plan is here to make sure you and yours have something to smile about, 24/7.