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Believe it or not, today is the beginning of National Smile Week in the US!!! Sound silly? Maybe, but a healthy mouth is actually quite serious. Periodontal disease can lead to infections and other diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and that can be life threatening. For a list of causes, warning signs, and risk factors, check out this link.
Plaque is caused by food particles that remain in the mouth. Bacteria feed on these small particles and started to erode away at the enamel on the teeth. Specifically, acidic foods and sugary foods tend to weaken tooth enamel the most. Sugar feeds the bacteria, so sucking on hard candy or sipping sugary drinks throughout the day are two of the worst habits for your teeth.
Foods that may help your smile
Water: This is probably one of the most important. Drinking water after and between meals helps to keep your gums hydrated and is the best way to continue to get food particles washed away from the teeth.
Fluoride: Fluoride promotes the reabsorption of minerals into teeth and protects against decay. Fluoride has been added to many US water supplies, toothpastes, mouthwashes, and other dental products. You can also get a fluoride topical treatment when you visit your dentist.
Calcium, Vitamin D, and phosphate: Cheese has long been touted as being good for teeth because of it's low carbohydrate content and high calcium and phosphate content.
Catechins: Green tea is one example of a beverage that contains catechins that can kill the bacteria in your mouth that cause decay.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C protects the gums which is where infection often starts. Good sources of Vitamin C are kiwi, strawberries, citrus fruits, peppers, and tomatoes.
Celery: Celery is one food that is naturally abrasive so it can clean the teeth and massage the gums. It also helps neutralize the bacteria in the mouth. End a meal by chewing a stalk of celery!
Other healthy smile habits:
- Brush your teeth twice daily, once in the morning and once right before bed. Do not eat anything after brushing your teeth at night so you maintain as clean an environment as possible for the duration of sleep.
- Floss daily: Brushing is important, but flossing helps get the food particles that get stuck in between teeth
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 months. Most people can't even remember when they last replaced theirs!
- Visit the dentist regularly. Get a cleaning and exam twice a year.
- Be aware of changes in your mouth, sores that don't heal, and gums that bleed more than usual. Report all suspicious findings to your dentist right away.