Teeth, over time, have become important social symbols of wealth and health. Although bright white teeth are important and well talked about today, most don’t know that our ancestors likely had nice white teeth as well. That begs the question if our ancestor’s thousands of years ago didn’t have dental problems but we do, how do we keep our dental health in check, and where did we go wrong?
Perhaps the biggest affront on teeth in the last few hundred years has been sugar. Our modern diets contain copious amounts of refined and added sugars which our bodies are not used to consuming even on a semi-regular basis. Whenever you eat or drink something with sugar in it, you’re essentially inviting in a storm or erosion and decay. Sugar itself is a fantastic source of simple carbs, in other words, bacteria love sugar! So much so that bacteria will fester and grow in your mouth after a drink or snack. Over time the bacteria that feeds off sugar will also begin to feed off of your mouth by eating away your gums and the enamel in your teeth. This is one of the reasons why the modern diet is so harmful and dangerous to good dental hygiene. So, the first step is to cut back on added sugar as much as possible. Now, this doesn’t mean refraining from everything sweet. Instead, fruits contain naturally occurring sugar which is not created equal to added or refined sugar. If in doubt think about if it occurs naturally. For example, pop or soda is not naturally occurring but apples, grapes, and cantaloupe are. So, do your best to get your refined sugar intake to as close as zero as possible, and especially make sure to avoid sugary drinks that leave residue on your teeth all day long.
Brush 3 times a day
Perhaps one of the most simple pieces of advice to follow is to brush your teeth 3 times a day. Although many American dentists only recommend brushing twice a day, this recommendation is only the absolute bare minimum required to help prevent cavities and more. Instead, brushing at least 3 times a day has been shown to provide better protection from cavities and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums that leads to gum disease). In fact, in most parts of the world outside of the USA, brushing 3 times a day is quite normal. This is because you should aim to brush away harmful tartar and plaque buildup as soon as possible. Since most people also eat lunch or snacks throughout the day, this means your leaving the entire day open to bacteria and decay to wreak havoc in your mouth. Instead, try to brush after every major meal.
Use A Good Toothbrush
Many people are sold on the idea that a ‘good’ toothbrush is a fancy electronic device with all the bells and whistles. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The thing that really matters as far as your toothbrush is concerned is the bristle pattern and firmness. You may think the more firm the bristles the better since that would be better at scrapping away plaque. However, this is not the case since firm bristles over time can actually do damage to your gums. Instead, it’s best to get a toothbrush that you will use 3 times a day and one that has relatively soft bristles. Aside from the bristle firmness, an automatic or manual toothbrush actually doesn’t make much of a difference as long as your technique is adequate.
Practice Good Brushing Technique
Along with a soft bristle toothbrush, you should make sure you’re brushing strokes are actually scrubbing and whisking away plaque and tartar buildup. The most important aspect here is to ensure you hit the gum line with your bristles and swipe away from the gum line to wipe tatar away. By hitting the gum line you’re also hitting the most common buildup area and will keep not only your teeth healthy but your gums as well.
Brushing Isn’t Enough, Start Flossing
Although you may be brushing 3 times a day with the right toothbrush using the right technique, brushing alone doesn’t hit all surfaces. Instead brushing is great for hitting the front, back, and sides of your teeth and the gum line, but what about all that space in between your teeth? In fact, the space in between your teeth oftentimes holds the same amount of buildup as the rest of your mouth. So, if you’re not flossing you’re essentially only cleaning half of your mouth every night. This can quickly lead to gingivitis and even gum disease if not addressed over a long period of time. Interestingly this wasn’t an issue for non-modern humans since their diets did not include sugar, but did include plenty of stretchy vegetables which acted as brushing and flossing devices to scrap away plaque. So, make sure to floss at a bare minimum 1 a day and preferably once after every meal. With flossing, you should also make sure to hit the spaces between every tooth and run the floss forward and backward several times. If you haven’t brushed in a while you may experience bleeding gums, but don’t be alarmed! If your gums bleed after flossing for the first time in a long time, this is perfectly normal and simply a sign that you needed to floss in the first place.
Brush Your Tongue
Another commonly forgotten aspect of brushing your teeth and flossing is addressing the tongue. Although the tongue doesn’t suffer from the same kind of decay and erosion as your gum line or tooth enamel, it can still suffer if left untreated. Since your tongue is great at collecting bacteria, it acts as a sort of reservoir for bacteria to thrive off. Even if you brush and floss your teeth, your tongue may reintroduce bad bacteria as soon as you close your mouth and stop brushing. So, be sure to get a toothbrush with a tongue-scraping element on the back of the head. The good news is almost every toothbrush will have this feature. You can also go the extra mile by purchasing individual tongue scrappers as well. To brush your tongue well, simply gently brush with the tongue scrapper side and rinse with water to wash away plaque buildup.
Choose The Right Toothpaste
You’ve likely seen commercials for just about every toothpaste brand out there. In fact, most commercials will say their toothpaste is the most commonly recommended toothpaste brand out there. The truth is, traditional fluoride toothpaste is all the same. Aside from differences in taste and foaming action, each toothpaste is required by law to contain no more than a certain percentage of fluoride in its ingredients. This means every single toothpaste you buy off the shelf has exactly the same effect. In fact, some dentists will even tell you the act of brushing is more important than the toothpaste itself. However, that’s not the end all be all with toothpaste. While fluoridated toothpaste is the most common in America, most other countries actually rely on a different chemical for repairing and protecting tooth health. Nano-hydroxyapatite is a compound capable of actually remineralizing and repairing your tooth enamel. This type of toothpaste can be purchased online and has been shown to actually regrow enamel for minor decay. Thus, this type of toothpaste is a great choice for those with sensitive teeth, or for those who have the early stages of developing a cavity.
Get Some Mouthwash
Alongside a solid toothbrush and flossing, you may also want to consider mouthwash. Again, when it comes to fluoridated mouthwash there is almost no difference between the competing brands except for the flavor and foaming action. However, there are mouthwashes that are formulated by periodontists (specialists in gum health) that work to actually kill off bad bacteria and keep your gums healthy. In many cases, these mouthwashes are what your dentist will recommend if they determine that you have gingivitis. So, do some research into mouthwashes formulated by experts in dental hygiene and good gum health.
Drink More Water
Not only drink more water but try to avoid other drinks altogether. Drinks containing sugar and caffeine will erode the enamel in your teeth and help bad bacteria grow, causing gingivitis and even gum disease if left untreated. Instead, try to focus on water and cut out other beverages, especially ones like juices and sodas. Water also has the benefit of washing away some plaque, food debris, and other bacteria from the mouth. So, be sure to drink water after every meal.
Another possible avenue of good dental hygiene is by going holistic. Although it may sound a bit out there, some holistic practitioners actually will help you maintain good oral hygiene. Holistic practitioners are going to focus on more than just one body system, but will instead take into account your entire body, emotional state, and more. This can be important because other body systems may be affecting your oral hygiene. For instance, for those with bad acid reflux, you may brush, floss, and use mouthwash every day, but it’s your acid reflux that’s the problem, not your oral hygiene. In this scenario, a good holistic doctor may be able to identify and treat other conditions which affect your dental hygiene. Therefore holistic dental care may be something you should consider if the traditional treatments and advice are not changing your overall dental health.
Get Dental Insurance
Along with good prevention, it’s also important to ensure you can afford good dental care in the case of a cavity, root canal, or even dentures. Denture supplies are not cheap and are typically custom to you since every mouth is different. This is why carrying good insurance is important in case you need more than just routine care. Outside of larger operations and equipment like braces, dental insurance can also cover other services like telehealth counselors as well. In the case of medical care being needed, you can also rest easy knowing you are covered. Also, if you must visit a specialist, say for instance a pain center for oral-related pain, then insurance will cover some or all of the larger associated visit fees. In the case of acute pain relief, bills can also be very costly, in which case making sure you have proper dental insurance will be the difference between going into medical debt, or contending with a few hundred dollars in payments.
Get A Fascial
This last one may surprise you, but some medical spa centers offer facials that will also cover some aspects of dental hygiene. For instance, some botox treatments can be performed to stop jaw clenching or other facial muscle strain issues. This treatment can therefore stop grinding of teeth and save your teeth!
See Your Dentist 2 Times A Year
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment. As the saying goes, prevention is the best possible way to treat potential medical problems. A dental hygienist will also be able to give you a dental cleaning which is highly specific in its approach. The benefit here is a trained professional can ensure every nook and cranny of your mouth is cleaned and document any potential issues like potential cavities or other problems. By practicing good dental hygiene you can avoid gum disease and other nasty oral issues that may arise from neglect. Although humans haven’t always been plagued by bad oral hygiene, our modern diets promote plenty of harmful bacteria in our mouths. This is why it’s also important to understand food & health information as it pertains to your dental hygiene. By cutting out sugar, drinking only water, brushing 3 times a day with a soft bristle toothbrush, flossing twice a day, and using a mouthwash designed to keep your gums healthy, you can fend off most of what modern diets throw at you.