Did you know that each human mouth contains billions of bacteria — more than the entire human population of Earth? Luckily, most of these organisms are completely harmless. Many are even beneficial, protecting our teeth and gums and helping us digest food.
But lurking in the mix are some bacterial bad guys, who produce acids that eat away enamel and cause tooth decay.
The key to a cavity-free mouth is to keep your population of destructive oral bacteria under control.
Eat Calcium-Rich Foods
Load up on your milk, yogurt, cheese, and leafy greens — all excellent sources of tooth-building calcium. Calcium is a mineral that’s stored in your bones and teeth, and is essential to maintaining their structure and strength. According to recent studies, cheese has the added benefit of raising the pH level of the mouth, which discourages the proliferation of harmful bacteria.
Calcium needs vitamin D and phosphorus to do its job properly, so make sure you get plenty of those minerals too.
Drinking good ol’ H2O throughout the day helps keep your mouth clean between brushing. It rinses away food particles and the nasty bacteria that feed on them. If you don’t already have one, purchase a reusable water bottle and keep it with you as you go about your day. Tap water is better than bottled because most municipal water supplies are fortified with cavity-fighting fluoride.
Be a Stickler about Oral Hygiene
No matter how rushed you are in the morning or how tired you are at night, don’t let your brushing and flossing routine lapse. It’s vital to brush at least twice per day and floss daily to clean your mouth of food particles, plaque, and the daily build up of destructive bacteria. Brush for two minutes each time and be sure to get all surface of the teeth and even the tongue!
If you have kids, it’s important to set an example and teach them that it’s never okay to skip the daily dental routine.
Don’t Be a Stranger
Even if you practice meticulous oral hygiene at home, even if your teeth feel and look fine, it’s important to come for cleanings and exams at Edgewood Dental Care every six months. We will remove plaque and tartar that your toothbrush can’t reach despite your best efforts. We can also spot very early signs of decay through visual examination, X-rays, 3D imagining, and our cutting-edge, non-invasive DIAGNOdent cavity detection pen.
Don’t Buy Sticky or Chewy Sweets
Sugar combined with a sticky or chewy texture is a recipe for tooth decay. Think gummy snacks, chewy granola bars, fruit roll-ups, caramel, and even dried fruit. These foods tend to get stuck in the grooves of the teeth and are difficult to remove completely. So the sugar remains trapped in the teeth, creating a breeding ground for bacteria that produce acids that destroy tooth enamel.
Chew Sugarless Gum
Chewing gum is an excellent way to stimulate the production of saliva in your mouth. This helps keep your mouth clean throughout the day when you don’t have access to your toothbrush. One important caveat: the gum must be sugarless. The sugar that’s in other gums will provide food for bacteria and cancel out any beneficial effects.
Avoid Soda, Juice, and Sports Drinks
When you drink a sweet beverage like soda, juice, and sports drinks, you are coating the inside of your mouth with a layer of liquid sugar. It will settle deep into the nooks and crannies of your teeth, where it will serve as a nice food supply for bacteria. Diet sodas are not off the hook: they contain acids that will damage your tooth enamel directly. When you are thirsty, choose water or plain milk.
Get Your Fluoride
Your teeth continuously lose essential minerals, like calcium and phosphorus, in a process called demineralization. With the right diet, those minerals will be replaced in a process called remineralization. When fluoride is present, it hardens those replenished minerals so they are stronger and better able to resist destructive bacterial acids.
Fluoride is present in most municipal water supplies, which is why it’s important to drink tap when possible. It is also present in toothpastes and other dental products. At Edgewood Dental Care, we offer special in-office treatments so you can be sure you and your kids are getting the fluoride you need for strong teeth.