Did you know that there’s evidence to support a link between periodontal disease and heart disease?
You may not think that brushing and flossing your teeth can have any impact on your heart’s health, but the same bacteria that are responsible for periodontal disease can, in fact, move into the bloodstream and raise one’s risk for heart attacks and strokes.
Of course, having healthy teeth is important in and of itself! Read on to find out how to keep your pearly whites as healthy as can be!
Bad Dental Habits to Break
You already know that sugary drinks, chewy or gummy candy, and infrequent flossing are no-nos when it comes to keeping your teeth healthy. Here are a few dental don’ts that are a little less well-known.
Chomping on Ice
If you’re one of the people who can’t help chewing and chomping on ice cubes when your soda is all gone, you may be doing your teeth a disservice. This bad dental habit can actually cause your teeth to chip or crack. It can also irritate the soft tissue inside your teeth, leading to toothaches.
Using Your Teeth as Tools
It may seem easier to open a beer bottle, remove the price tag from a new garment, or tear off a length of packing tape with your teeth than to stop what you’re doing and go searching for the proper tool. This isn’t a good way to keep your teeth healthy, though.
Refrain from using your teeth for anything else besides chewing, and keep scissors and bottle openers handy. Your dentist will thank you!
Eating several small meals during the day rather than sitting down to three squares may be good for your waistline, but it’s bad news for your smile. Less saliva is produced during snacks than during a meal, so unless you’re brushing and flossing in between noshes, there are more bacteria attacking your teeth during the course of the day.
Chewing on Pens and Pencils
Do your pen caps and pencil ends look like they’ve been attacked by a beaver? Keep the writing instruments out of your mouth! Just like with ice, chewing on these things can cause a tooth to crack, chip or break.
It also leads to more overall wear and tear on your teeth. Choose sugar-free gum if you need something to munch on. As an added bonus, it will help you provide saliva, which in turns promotes healthy teeth by protecting against damage to tooth enamel from acids.
Grinding Your Teeth
Is your jaw often sore or achy? Do you wake up in the mornings with tension headaches? If so, you might be grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw — a condition also known as bruxism.
Thought to be caused by stress, bruxism can take a toll on your otherwise healthy teeth. Wearing a mouth guard when you sleep can help protect your teeth from damage. During the daytime, try relaxation exercises to help your jaw muscles stay loose.
Habits to Develop for Healthy Teeth
Now that you know what not to do, let’s review the habits that will keep your teeth looking and feeling their best!
Brush Your Mouth
No, that’s not a typo. Although most people focus on brushing just the teeth themselves, you should actually be taking care of your entire mouth. That means brushing your tongue and your gums.
Do so gently, but don’t neglect these areas of the mouth. Regular brushing of the tongue, in particular, can help prevent bad breath.
Make certain that you’re brushing your teeth regularly — at least twice a day, and preferably after each meal, as well — and that you’re doing it properly.
Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth and brush gently, using a circular motion. Don’t scrub them or brush until it hurts. That won’t contribute to healthy teeth; in fact, it can cause more harm than good.
Chew on These Foods
You know what foods are bad for your teeth, but are there any that can help improve your dental hygiene? The answer is yes!
As you might expect, dentists recommend crunchy vegetables and fruits to maximize your snacking potential. Snacks like apples, celery, and carrot sticks can help clean plaque from teeth. In addition, cheese stimulates saliva production, which reduces the acid level in your mouth.
Another good habit to develop, especially if it’s inconvenient to brush and floss after every meal, is to drink water after you put your fork down. A glass of water will help wash away food particles and bacteria. Of course, it’s also good for your overall health, too!
Swish Your Way to Healthy Teeth
Mouthwash is a good complement to your daily brushing and flossing routine. It neutralizes the acid and helps to remineralize your teeth. Additionally, mouthwash reaches those hard-to-brush areas at the back of the mouth, between teeth, and at the gum line.
The use of mouthwash can be a boon for young children or the elderly — populations that may not brush as well or as thoroughly. Children under the age of six should not use mouthwash, because they may inadvertently swallow the liquid.
Choose a mouthwash with fluoride. If you’re in doubt, ask your dentist to recommend one.
Speaking of the Dentist…
It will probably come as no surprise to you that our last healthy teeth hint involves visiting your dentist. Have a dental checkup at least twice a year. Your dentist can remove the calculus that contributes to tooth decay.
These checkups will also serve to nip any potential periodontal problems in the bud! Frequent visits to the doctor are an especially smart choice for anyone with a history of gingivitis or cavities.
Do You Have Healthy Teeth?
How do you keep your teeth healthy? Did any of these tips and tricks come as a surprise to you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!