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Good Dental Health Habits

It is safe to say that taking good care of your teeth will ensure a brighter smile and can also help you to avoid costly visits to the dentist. But did you know that poor dental habits will not only lead to cavities, gingivitis and gum problems like a periodontal disease but will also have a negative effect on the health of your body as a whole? In fact, the mouth can be seen as a gateway to the body. Redness, inflammation, bacterial build-up, infection and more can raise red flags beyond missing flossing here and there!

Below are some ways good dental health habits you can adopt as part of your daily lifestyle.

  • Brushing. Most people are aware that brushing teeth is important. To achieve healthy teeth, you are to brush your teeth twice daily preferable in the morning and before going to bed. Use a soft bristled brush that is gentle on the gums to avoid bleeding. The size of the brush also matters, therefore choose one that fits well in your mouth and is able to reach all your teeth. Brushes need to be replaced when the bristles start to fray and this is usually after three or four months. When choosing the right toothpaste, get one which is ADA accepted.
  • Flossing. Another good dental habit is flossing and this should be done once a day. Chances are you have had some experience with particles stick between your teeth. These hard to remove particles can be easily dislodged by flossing. If plaque is left and not removed, it will turn into calculus or tartar. The only way to remove tartar effectively will be to have your teeth professionally cleaned. Therefore flossing can save you that trip to the dentist.
  • Rinse After Meals. When you are done with your meals and are not planning to brush your teeth. Consider rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial solution. This will help get rid of particles that have been left behind and will keep your gums healthy. If you are not able to rinse your mouth, you can buy a sugar-free gum and chew it; the increase of saliva will wash away any debris still present after your meal.
  • Avoid Smoking. Tobacco in cigarettes is known to discolour your teeth as well as increasing the risk of gum disease and oral cancer. The staining caused by cigarettes is hard to remove and regular professional whitening expenses will add up quickly over a period of time.
  • Choose Your Foods Wisely. The bacteria that are found in the mouth usually breaks down sugars, therefore, be cautious when it comes to sweets. The broken down sugar will create a certain acid that destroys the enamel on your teeth. Some of the worst offenders include carbonated beverages, as the carbonation is known to increase the level of acidity.
  • Schedule Dental Appointment. Another important dental health habit is to visit the dentist every six months. The dentist will look for plaque that is hard for you to brush away or other signs of decay. Many people have discovered early the presence of oral cancer, gum disease, as well as the wear and tear from tooth grinding. Catching these and other oral health concerns early have been known to result in minimizing the long term damage while increasing the effectiveness of the treatments.

Good dental health habits require only a few minutes of your day and can have a lasting positive impact on your overall health!

Can The Health of Your Mouth Affect The Health of Your Body?

Good news for health care patients everywhere, more and more physicians are joining natural practitioners such as Chiropractors and Naturopaths in assessing and treating the body with a holistic approach. This entails an understanding that the body is not merely the sum of its parts, rather an integrative organism that thrives as a whole or fails as a whole meaning a deficiency somewhere can wreak havoc in multiple regions of the body.

Certain practices, such as reflexology, iridology, and Chinese Medicine assess a portion of the body (the feet, eyes, and tongue/pulse respectively) to determine overall health concerns. The same can be said for dentistry and their assessment of mouth and gum health, as a surface problem here could mean underlying pathology. The mouth can be seen as a gateway to the body. Redness, inflammation, bacterial build-up, infection and more can raise red flags beyond missing a flossing here and there.

  • Saliva & Disease: One popular method of testing for illness is the diagnosis of saliva to identify markers that reveal different pathogens representing endocrine, immunologic, inflammatory, and infectious conditions (ex. HIV, Viral Hepatitis, Helicobacter pylori infection, etc.) along with neoplasms (tumors or cancer such as breast, oral, pancreatic), adrenal concerns (like Cushing’s and Addison’s), hormonal issues (menopause, PCOS, etc.) and more. The mouth reveals valuable information in terms of where to start and what to correct. (reference Saliva testing)
  • Oral Health & Diabetes: One specific condition that requires constant monitoring and check-up by a dental professional is that of Diabetes as periodontitis or inflammation of the tissue surrounding the teeth can result in the loosening and loss of teeth. Diabetes affects the patient’s blood sugar levels and the body’s ability to metabolize sugar.  With inflammation in the mouth, the saliva is affected and further reduces the enzymes (insulin) necessary to process the sugar. Diabetes and periodontitis are a vicious cycle as having the diabetes puts you at greater risk for gum infection, and high blood sugar found with uncontrolled diabetes provides the ideal growth conditions for bacteria. The moral of the story is to keep the diabetes well looked after by your health care professionals, and make sure a dentist is part of the team!
  • Oral Health and Heart Disease: Another group of conditions that have complications affecting the mouth is that of heart disease. It has been recorded that 91% of patients with heart disease have suffered from periodontitis compared to 66% of those without. They share risk factors such as poor diet, smoking, and obesity along with the theory that increased inflammation revealed in the mouth may be linked to increased inflammation in blood vessels through the body. This can lead to complications in the cardiovascular system resulting in potentially fatal results like heart attack or stroke. Quitting smoking and improving diet are two lifestyle changes that will significantly improve your oral and overall health!
  • Oral Health and Osteoporosis: Healthy teeth and bones are by-products of good habits and personal dental hygiene and bone loss can affect them both. Some studies suggest those with osteoporosis are more likely to suffer from periodontitis and vice versa. Further studies are required but the bottom line is to manage calcium and practice healthy bone diets and regimes.

Overall, the message is clear—there are clear correlations between oral health and total body wellness and it is imperative to brush, floss, and see your dentist for regular check-ups to maintain good mouth health and catch any conditions that may be rearing their ugly heads!

5 Quick Tips for Brushing

Part of maintaining good oral health is ensuring your brushing technique is effective. Brushing is the last line of defense against harmful bacterial growth and tooth decay. To ensure your teeth are getting the most out of this daily cleansing ritual, here are a few quick tips for brushing your teeth.

Choose the Right Toothbrush

Ideally, the bristles of a toothbrush should be soft to ensure your gums and tooth enamel are preserved. And, believe it or not, the handle of a toothbrush can also have a critical influence on how well you clean your teeth. The handle should be comfortable to hold and easy to maneuver so that you are not discouraged by discomfort to brush thoroughly.

Brush at a 45° Angle

Your instincts might tell you to sweep your brush straight across your gums, but to avoid gum irritation down the road, angle your brush at a 45° angle against your gumline. Next, use a sweeping motion downwards away from the gums across your teeth.

Start Brushing Your Teeth in Different Places

Many people have the habit of focusing in on the same places in their mouths when brushing their teeth. As a result, these parts of the mouth are cleaner and receive more attention than others. A good way to encourage variety in your brushing consciously makes the choice to begin brushing your teeth in a different part of the mouth each time you brush.

Brush Gently for Longer (At Least Two Minutes)

A deep clean does not necessarily mean scrubbing the inside of your mouth raw. Brushing your teeth with extra vigour and pressure can actually wear away the gumline and the enamel of your teeth. Apply gentle pressure while brushing for a longer period of time can prolong the life of your teeth while still giving your pearly whites the deep cleaning they need. Use a stopwatch or an egg timer to keep track of time.

Keep Your Toothbrush Dry

A constantly wet toothbrush is a haven for bacterial growth. Before storing your brush, remember to shake off any excess water after rinsing. Also, make sure it has ample ventilation to promote fast drying.

On a final note, when you find a toothbrush you like, it is a good idea to stock up if you can. Toothbrushes need to be replaced every three months or at the first sign of deterioration. So, instead of hunting around every few months for the perfect toothbrush, stockpile the brush you like to keep your teeth happy for years to come.

7 Foods to Avoid for Healthier Teeth

Some foods, even seemingly healthy foods, can have a negative impact on the overall health of your teeth. Cavities and the erosion of tooth enamel can be avoided with the appropriate dental care, but even those who brush and floss twice a day can leave themselves open to tooth decay by indulging in certain foods.

Sugary Beverages: Pop, Fruit Juices and Sports Drinks

Carbonated drinks, sports drinks and fruit juices have a big dental hazard in common- sugar. Drinks with relatively high sugar contents encase your teeth in a residue that converts to acid which causes tooth decay. The next time you indulged in these drinks, opt for a straw to minimize contact with your teeth.

Citrus Fruits

While citrus fruits are a fantastic source of vitamin C, these highly acidic fruits can be detrimental to tooth enamel. Studies have shown lemons and grapefruits pose the greatest risks, while oranges have shown to be less erosive.

Starchy Foods: Soft Bread, Pastries, Potato Chips and Crackers

When it comes to starchy foods, the rule is anything that clumps can cause damage. Refined carbohydrates that get stuck in your teeth have all the time they need to convert to acid and breed cavity-causing bacteria.

Hard and Soft Candies and Dried Fruit

Candies of any kind are problematic because of their high sugar content, but hard and soft candies damage your teeth in different ways. Sucking on hard candies creates a highly acidic environment in your mouth, soaking your teeth in erosive material. Chewing on soft candies, like the starchy foods mentioned earlier, allow the fragments that get stuck in the contours of your teeth to grow cavity friendly bacteria. Like chewable candies, dried fruit poses the same problem.

Coffee and Teas

While it is true that both coffee and tea contain a compound called polyphenol that counteracts cavity growing bacteria, there are two downsides to these supposedly teeth friendly drinks. The first is the staining. These dark drinks are notorious for staining anything they touch, and your teeth are no exception. The second downside applies to those who take sugar in their coffee and tea. Sugar makes these drinks very sticky which tends to coat the teeth. This stickiness can allow food particles and bacteria to adhere to the tooth.

Alcohol: Red and White Wine

In general, alcohol and other foods that dry out the mouth are best avoided. Consumption of red and white wine, in particular, are beverages that contain compounds that make the teeth more susceptible to deep staining.

Vinegar Laden Foods: Relish, Pickles, Vinaigrettes

It should be obvious by now that acid is bad news for your teeth. Naturally, foods rich in vinegar, if consumed on a regular basis and copious amounts, can wear away tooth enamel.

5 Tips for Better Flossing

Flossing is an extremely vital step in maintaining good oral health. Not only is it important to break out the floss every day, but it is also equally as important to use the right flossing techniques to achieve plaque removal. If you are struggling with flossing, check out the five flossing tips below to help guide you in the right direction.

Don’t Be Heavy Handed

Flossing Technique

When trying to get to those hard to reach places, some people fall into the habit of snapping the floss between their teeth. This is especially tempting for those whose teeth are very close together. Repeatedly snapping and cutting the floss deep into the gumline can cause the gums to recede over time. To preserve your gums, use a gentle hand and take your time when flossing. Even if it takes a bit of extra patience and persistence to cut through the plaque, your gums will thank you in the long run.

Don’t Skimp on the Floss

Dentists agree, around 46 centimetres of floss should be used every time you floss. That might seem like an awful lot of floss, but if you are flossing correctly you will need at least that much. To employ the proper flossing technique the floss should be wrapped around the fingers several times with an inch or two pulled tautly between the hands. The index fingers should be used to apply pressure to the floss as it moves between the teeth. Remember also to avoid using the same two-inch length of floss for your entire mouth.

Use a Zigzag Motion

The purpose of flossing is to clear the plaque buildup under the gumline and around the contours of the tooth. To get the most out of flossing use a sawing motion or a zigzag pattern and wrap the floss around either side of each tooth. Dragging the floss from side to side across the tooth will ensure the plaque is chipped away.

Floss Before Bed if You Can

While flossing at any point during the day is better than not flossing at all, if you can, try to floss before tucking in for the night. While you sleep your mouth dries out because you produce much less saliva than you would during the day. The decrease in saliva results in fewer bacteria transference throughout the mouth and your teeth remain cleaner for longer.

Follow a Pattern

It is easy to get distracted when doing a repetitive task like flossing. With practice, you may even be able to watch TV or do other activities while flossing. When your undivided attention is not focused on flossing, the risk of skipping over teeth or missing a section of your jaw entirely runs high. To ensure each and every tooth gets some attention, follow a pattern, like flossing from right to left and top to bottom, and stick to it every time you floss.

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