Monday, October 12, 2009

Teeth Health

Recently, when I went for my bi-annual teeth cleaning, my dental hygienist told me how great it was to clean my teeth. What? It’s great to clean someone’s teeth? That’s a surprise. Well, it seems most people do not brush nor floss their teeth regularly. Yucky!!! I thought we needed to spread good info teeth as nutrition plays a role in keeping our smile healthy.

I was fortunate to bump into Jodi Wright, RDH, RD (Registered Dental Hygienist, Registered Dietitian), a rare combination of professions, and asked her to share her expertise with us.

Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you. The Academy of General Dentistry reports that 96 percent of survey respondents believe that a smile is important to a person’s appearance. We agree. Many of us think only old people lose their teeth. Well, not only are many of us getting older, but this belief is wrong! Even the young can lose their teeth. What can we do? Here are some tips:

1. Good nutrition

a. Eating well is good for our bodies and health, we know that, but it’s equally important for our teeth and gums.
b. You need to eat foods with important nutrients such as:vitamin C (fruits and vegetables) to keep your gums healthy; calcium (dairy products) to keep your teeth and bones strong; fluoride (tap water) to help protect your teeth from cavities.
c. Avoid sugary (not diet) carbonated sodas: they contain too much sugar and a large amount of phosphoric acid, which erode your teeth over time.
d. Eat crunchy foods like carrots and apples to clean your teeth.
e. Brush after eating starchy foods since the bacteria in your mouth create teeth-attacking acids to break down this food.
f. My input: Eat vanadium containing foods - skim milk, lobster, vegetable oils, many vegetables, grains and cereals. I found a study that suggests these foods, as vanadium is a building material for bones and teeth. (J Altern Complement Med 1999 Jun;5(3):273-91) Anyway, these foods are nutritious.
g. Limit sticky snacks. The caries producing character of food depends on composition, texture, solubility, retentiveness, and ability to stimulate saliva flow. Sugary snacks that are crisper and less moist will stick less to your teeth.
h. Eat cheese as a snack. There are many reasons: stimulates the alkaline saliva flow which buffers the acids formed in plaque; increases rate of sugar clearance; chewing cheese may reduce the levels of cariogenic bacteria (Am J Dent 1990 Oct;3(5):217-23) (Am J Clin Nutr 1995 Feb;61(2):417S-422S); high calcium and phosphorus content of cheese helps build strong teeth; the casein and whey protein reduces enamel demineralization. (Aust Dent J 1991 Apr;36(2):120-5)

2. Brushing
1. To remove food debris from your teeth:
2. Brushing should be done at least twice a day (morning and night)
3. Take at least two minutes to brush your entire mouth; three minutes is better.
4. Use an egg timer in the bathroom to be sure you are brushing for the right amount of time.
5. Do not use a hard bristled brush or apply too much pressure while brushing since this can wear away your protective enamel. Instead, get a soft bristled brush and use gentle circular scrubbing motions.
6. Most people buy large head brushes; it is easier to clean hard to reach back teeth with a compact head.

3. Flossing
1. Do not floss only when you “have something stuck in your teeth.” Plaque (that icky bacteria that causes bad breath, gum disease, and cavities) grows within 24 hours. When you do not floss every day you leave that plaque behind. 2. Don’t forget your tongue. Your tongue collects plaque like your teeth does, resulting in bad breath. Use a tongue scraper as you may gag with a toothbrush.

4. Dental appointment
See your dentist or dental hygienist twice a year for teeth cleaning. Plaque needs to be removed by a professional. With gum disease, go more often to keep from destroying the bone that supports the teeth in the mouth.

Keep Smiling.