When we hear the word “dentures” most of us picture a little-old lady shuffling around in her pink house coat, gumming sweet nothings to her cats, while her false teeth sit in cup on the nightstand. Although this most certainly is a very real way of life for some, the advances in technology have taken dentures and dental implants to the next level. They are better fitting, easier to clean, and as far as dental implants go, they are permanent.
However, we are not going to talk about how great these dental treatments are, we are going to go over several ways you can avoid the need for false teeth all together. Taking care of your teeth while you are young will allow you to steer clear of dentures in the future.
Here are 5 ways to help keep your mouth healthy throughout your entire life:
- Brushing – Yep, starting with the obvious. You would think this one would be a no brainer, but one in four adults do not brush the minimum required amount of twice a day. This problem is even worse for children and teenagers. A mouth full of Doritos and Mountain Dew can play a toll on your future oral health. Allowing food to make a home on your teeth and gums creates the bacteria that is responsible for tooth loss, decay, and periodontal disease. Moral of the story: brush your dang teeth.
- Floss – You probably thought we were done with the obvious, but so many people skip this step all together. Flossing is a vital part of maintaining good oral health. Often your toothbrush has a hard time reaching areas in between your teeth. When food particles get stuck there it leads to the formation of tartar, which is the stuff that can only be removed with a scraper. Tartar leads to gingivitis, and if left to do whatever it wants, it will spread to the gum line and cause periodontitis and tooth loss.
- Regular dental visits – Now that we’ve visited the world of brushing and flossing let’s talk about the importance of professional cleanings. Adults should be receiving semi-annual cleanings as part of their dental routine. Every six months we can help keep gum disease and tooth decay in check by correcting problems before they turn into bigger and badder situations.
- Food and beverages – We are going to visit the good and the bad in this category.
Starting with the bad:
- Citrus fruit – Even though they are a rich source of vitamin C and contain other healthy nutrients, they do no favors to the health of your teeth. They are highly acidic and can erode tooth enamel over time. If you just can’t stay away from these delicious fruits make sure you brush and floss after.
- Chewy candy – The stickier the worse it is for your teeth. Things like taffy and caramels tend to latch onto your teeth and linger long past their time of welcome. This allows bacteria to throw an unwanted party in your mouth. Bacteria is what burns sugar, turning it into harmful acid, which dissolves tooth enamel and causes cavities.
- Wine, coffee, tea – These are white-smile destroyers. Indulging in these tasty drinks have the ability to dull your once bright smile in no time. The dark pigments within them cause discoloration and can easily stain your teeth.
Now onto the good:
- Sugarless gum – If your sweet tooth just can’t say no to the chewing of gum, stick to the ones that are sugarless or contain xylitol (an alcohol that reduces bacteria). Chewing gum helps your mouth produce saliva, which is nature’s way of washing away acids that produce the harmful bacteria in the mouth.
- Water – A little hydration from a delicious glass of water can do wonders for the body, and your oral health will certainly reap the benefits as well. Just like saliva, water helps wash harmful acids off of your teeth. It also contains fluoride, which is a mineral that helps protect your teeth from erosion.
- Dairy – Thank goodness that cheese falls into the “good” category. Calcium plays a major role in the health of our bones, which includes your teeth (not technically bone, but have the same properties). So enjoy that wedge of gouda and bring on the brie because the enamel of your teeth (and your taste buds) will thank you for the delicious snack.
- Drugs & alcohol – Long-term drug and alcohol use can have devastating effects on your overall health in general, but the effects that it can have on your teeth are extreme and definitely worth avoiding. Oral health problems are very common amongst those who have substance abuse problems. Some drugs are known to cause serious problems to the teeth and gums, combined with an inadequate level of personal hygiene care, that so often comes along with substance abuse, will destroy your oral health. Just say no!
If you make sure to follow these guidelines, and maintain good oral hygiene in your younger years you will have a better chance of avoiding the need for dentures later in life. Don’t overlook the health of your teeth, make brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits a priority and your mouth will thank you for it in the long run.