Spring is here! The phrase “spring cleaning” is often heard referring to homes and other major cleaning projects put off in anticipation of good weather, but have you ever thought to add your mouth to your spring-cleaning list? Although your Annapolis, MD dentist, Dr. Scott Finlay, would want you to be in constant cleaning mode when it comes to your teeth, spring is a good time to re-evaluate your habits for good dental health.
In addition to tooth brushing and flossing, schedule a check-up with your dentist 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. Your dentist can evaluate the way you brush and recommend a new toothpaste if necessary.
Another way to promote cleaner teeth is to make sure you are adding foods to your diet that help keep teeth clean, kill bacteria in your mouth and keep your gums healthy. Here are some foods that are good for your mouth:
Herbal Tea – Infused herbal teas are great to promote 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 and sugar, so they do not contribute to decay. Milk is also 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 help balance pH in the mouth, preserve (and rebuild) tooth enamel, produces saliva, and kills bacteria that cause cavities and disease.
Fruits – Some fruits and vegetables are natural abrasives and eating them will scrub 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 needed to break them 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 are not as effective 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.
Water – Water cleans and hydrates the mouth and produces saliva that deposits essential minerals into the teeth. Water washes away harmful bacteria from foods that can otherwise increase tooth decay, such as sugar and acid.
Poor food choices for your dental health include candy, cookies, cakes, pies, bread, 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 constantly exposes your teeth to constant sugar and, in turn, constant decay-causing acids.
Spring cleaning your mouth is the perfect way to start the season. Optimal dental health is so important to maintain as it directly impacts your overall physical health. A seasonal review of your nutrition habits and teeth cleaning practices will help you continue to stay in your best health. Call us today or schedule an appointment online so your dentist can make sure your oral health is on track.