“Say cheese!” There seems to be an overwhelming opportunity to show your pearly whites more now than ever. Everyone wants to capture that perfect moment and post it on Facebook, Instagram or other popular social media sites. Maple Grove dentist Kelly Lang suggests ways to keep your smile looking picture-perfect and your mouth feeling healthy.
Tip #1: Whitening Teeth Teeth lose their vibrant whiteness over time and become stained and yellowed by the food and beverages we consume. The most common things that stain teeth are hot tea, coffee, red wine and cola-based sodas. While Lang advises against whitening toothpastes, which remove only minor stains and cause tooth sensitivity, she says that over-the-counter whitening strips work well and are reasonably priced. For a little more aggressive treatment, Lang’s office offers the Go whitening kit.
Tip #2: Foods To Eat In order to make teeth healthier and stronger, certain foods can actually assist in the prevention of cavity formation. When choosing what to eat, Lang suggests snacking on nuts and cheese. These two foods have been shown to help decrease the occurrence of cavities in the mouth. Another option includes products that contain xylitol, usually found in certain gums and mints. Xylitol can help prevent cavities.
Tip #3: Foods To Avoid Sticky, gummy foods (like fruit snacks) can be detrimental to teeth. These types of foods can easily get stuck in the grooves of teeth, leading to cavities.
Tip #4: A Drink That Your Mouth Loves As a beverage of choice, Lang suggests fluoridated water. Fluoride strengthens enamel (the shell of the tooth) to prevent it from being broken down by decay. If your home is located inside city limits, its tap water probably contains fluoride (note that reverse osmosis home systems remove fluoride). It is possible to have water tested by a local dentist. If fluoride isn’t present, prescription fluoride drops or tablets can be prescribed by a dentist.
Tip #5: Be Wary Of Some Beverages Certain drinks easily lead to tooth decay. Sugar, as in sports drinks, soda and sweetened teas and coffees, is converted to acid by bacteria in the mouth. The acid can attack teeth for 20 minutes after drinking ceases. If liquids of this nature are consumed, Lang suggests drinking them all at once instead of sipping them throughout the day, to prevent repeated acid exposure. Consume sugary drinks with a meal, when saliva is readily flowing, which helps neutralize acid formation in the mouth. You can also swish with water after drinking to help remove acid.
Tip #6: Don’t Smoke It is well known that smoking is bad for anyone’s health and doesn’t contribute to a pretty smile. Smoking and chewing tobacco cause yellowing and staining of teeth, and decrease blood flow to gum tissues. Smoking is also directly correlated with oral/mouth cancer. Lang says that if there are sores present on the tongue or anywhere else in the mouth that last more than two weeks, it is important to have a dentist evaluate them. Oral cancer is aggressive and best caught early.
Tip #7: Preventing Bad Breath According to Lang, there are a variety of factors that contribute to bad breath. The biggest help in prevention is to brush the tongue or use a tongue-scraper. Many individuals forget this simple step when brushing their teeth. Bacteria grows readily on the tongue. Visiting the dentist every six months can help in making sure that gums are healthy so breath can remain fresh. Another suggestion to combat bad breath is the use of an antiseptic mouthwash that does not contain alcohol.
Choose food and drinks wisely, don’t smoke, and visit your dentist regularly to make your mouth happy and your teeth healthy. And next time your picture is taken, let that beautiful smile shine!
Dr. Kelly Lang, Metro Dentalcare
13340 Bass Lake Road