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Did You Know You Can Spring Clean Your Mouth?

Spring is here and the phrase “spring cleaning” is often heard referring to homes and other major cleaning projects put off in anticipation of the good weather. Have you ever thought to add your mouth to your spring-cleaning list? Although your dentist would want you to be in constant cleaning mode when it comes to your teeth, spring is a good time to re-evaluate all your habits for good dental health.

In addition to regular tooth brushing and flossing, schedule a check up with Annapolis dentist Dr. Finlay to go over your regular maintenance and see if there is anything you should be doing differently. Perhaps you need to invest in a new type of toothbrush or a water-flossing device, which has been proven to keep teeth 50 % cleaner than regular string floss. Drs. Finlay and Lim can evaluate the way you brush and also recommend a new toothpaste if necessary.

Another way to promote cleaner teeth is to make sure you are adding the types of food to your diet that help keep teeth clean, kill bacteria in your mouth and help keep your gums healthy. Here are some foods that do this:

Tea – Infused herbal teas are great for good dental health. Green tea contains polyphenol antioxidant plant compounds that decrease plaque and help reduce cavities, gum disease and possibly helping you avoid bad breath.

Dairy Products – Milk and yogurt are low in acidity so wearing of teeth is less. Both are also low in decay-inducing sugar. Also milk is a good source of calcium, the main component of teeth and bones.

Cheese – Cheese contains natural cavity-fighting agents as well as vitamins to strengthen the teeth. The calcium and phosphate in cheese helps balance pH in the mouth, preserves (and rebuilds) tooth enamel, produces saliva, and kills bacteria that cause cavities and disease.

Fruits – Some fruits and vegetables are natural abrasives and eating them scrubs your teeth in a natural and harmless way. Apples, strawberries and kiwis contain Vitamin C, which plays a big role in keeping cells together. If this vitamin is neglected, gums can become tender and susceptible to disease.

Vegetables – Vitamin A, found in pumpkins, carrots, sweet potatoes and broccoli, is necessary for the formation of tooth enamel. Crunchy vegetables may also help clean gums because of the increased chewing it takes to break it down. Onions contain antibacterial sulfur compounds and kill various types of bacteria, especially eaten raw. Chewing celery protects teeth by producing saliva, which neutralizes acid that causes demineralization and cavities.

Fresh herbs – Chewing on herbs like parsley, cilantro, and mint can decrease Odors caused by a build up of bacteria in the mouth. Dried herbs do not work as well, but can be used in mouth rinses.

Seeds –Sesame seeds are very high in calcium and can reduce plaque and help build tooth enamel.

Animal Protein Sources – Beef, chicken, turkey, eggs and especially fatty fish like salmon contain phosphorus which, with calcium, is one of the most vital minerals of teeth and bone.

Whole Grains – Foods such as bran, brown rice, whole-grain cereals and pasta are good choices for whole grains, which contain B vitamins, magnesium and iron that help keep gums healthy. Whole grains are high in fiber, which keeps saliva flowing, creating mineral defenses against tooth decay.

Don’t Forget Water! – Water cleans and hydrates the mouth and produces saliva that deposits essential minerals into the teeth.

Poor food choices for your dental heath include candy, cookies, cakes, pies, breads, muffins, potato chips, pretzels, French fries, bananas, raisins, and other dried fruits. These foods contain large amounts of sugar and can stick to teeth, providing a fuel source for bacteria. Cough drops should be used only when necessary as they, like sugary candy, contribute to tooth decay. Also, limit your consumption of sugar-containing drinks, including soft drinks, lemonade, and coffee or tea with added sugar. Daylong sipping of sugar-containing drinks should be avoided since it exposes your teeth to constant sugar and, in turn, constant decay-causing acids.

Since optimal dental heath is so important to maintain as it directly impacts your overall physical health, spring-cleaning your mouth is a good idea. A seasonal review of your nutrition habits and teeth cleaning practices will help you continue to stay in your best health.