Some Oral Health Resolutions
Yes, we know it’s February, but some resolutions are for life, so it’s never too late to make them. Besides, Valentine’s means lots of sweets and chocolate, so it’s probably a good time to formulate your 2019 dental plan. (Also, Easter Is Coming so you’d better start building those good snacking habits right now!) Naturally, you’ll veer towards ‘less sugar’ and ‘no candy’. But if you’re like most Aussies, simply reading that sentence was painful, so you won’t follow through.
Dr. Steven Lin has been saying for a while now that sweets aren’t the only problem. It’s more a matter of eating the right foods in the right amounts. So, for example, you can still get your sugar fix by crunching a carrot, or replace your favourite crisps with some lightly salted celery or fresh cucumber slices. Dr. Lin tells us the ‘crunch’ in food is important, because it makes our jaws stronger, larger, and wider, minimising spacing issues.
Of course, these positive habits have to start in childhood. Eating a hundred carrots won’t suddenly eliminate braces and impaction. So, in the interest of cutting down your long-term dental bills, start developing your children’s jaw lines. But for your teens (and your adult self), focus on maintaining the teeth you already have. We now know tooth decay doesn’t just come from eating sugar – it comes from over-doing it.
Let’s break it down. Oral bacteria are good. They digest food particles left on your teeth, secreting acids that kill oral toxins. Once the toxins are gone, the saliva in your mouth neutralises the acid, maintaining a healthy dental pH. But when you over-eat things that are sweet and sticky, your ‘oral security personnel’ stuff themselves as well, producing excess acid, and that’s what rots your teeth and infects your gums. For this reason, your top two resolutions should be regularising your meals and brushing your teeth before bed.
The latter ensures there’s no leftover food for your mouth bacteria to snack on while you sleep. The former gives saliva room to work. If you’re always snacking, bacteria are constantly feasting and secreting, so saliva has no time to wash away the waste. Some diets suggest you should eat six small meals a day, which means you’re eating every four hours. It’s better than eating every 30 minutes, both for weight loss and oral health. So schedule your snacks as well as your sit-down meals, and don’t stray from your routine.
Things Your Toothbrush Can’t Do
They say it takes 21 days to build a new habit, so stick with it, especially once you have desk-full of Valentine’s choccies. Just think – eating on a schedule will stretch them out longer! Another resolution you could develop is to floss after every snack or meal. Keep a floss fork in your pocket or purse. The flossing process itself will keep your teeth and gums healthy, because it reaches the spots your toothbrush can’t.
It may have an indirect effect as well – the thought of having to floss might wean you off that unplanned snack. Just Say No. Finally, make a point of seeing your dentist twice a year. You can get a check-up and professional cleaning to remove tartar build-up before it turns to plaque. For assistance in defining and attaining your oral health resolutions, call Dental Avenue Maroubra today on 02 9344 8822.
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