Your permanent teeth are the end of the line. The moment you lose your last baby tooth, you’re stuck with what you’ve got. Your teeth are supposed to last you a lifetime, but bad habits can leave you without teeth while you’re still around to chew food. You need to prioritize the health of your teeth, because if you let that fall by the wayside for too long, you may be faced with consequences you cannot reverse.
There’s a Lot You Should Be Doing for Your Mouth
Your mouth requires a lot of upkeep. It gets dirty infinitely faster than your apartment, and breeds bacteria in the blink of an eye. Cleaning your mouth is a constant process, and a thorough job requires multiple steps. Skipping a step every now and then can throw your mouth’s bacterial balance out of whack, making it harder for your body to rebalance your oral environment to its perfect state.
Your lifestyle choices will contribute to your overall dental health. Everything you eat and drink changes the environment of your mouth - sometimes for the better, but usually for the worst. Understanding the way the things you eat and drink affect your mouth will help you make better decisions.
1. Brushing Twice a Day
If you’re running late for work, you might feel tempted to skip your morning brushing session. You might even justify it with the logic that you’re going to drink a large cold brew and grab a breakfast sandwich when you hit the road, immediately dirtying your mouth again. That’s not quite how brushing works.
If you brush your teeth in the morning with a toothpaste containing xylitol and remineralizing ingredients, your toothpaste is protecting your teeth from being damaged while you’re eating your breakfast. Xylitol neutralizes the acidity in your mouth and forms a helpful film over your teeth that prevents bacteria from setting up shop on them.
The minerals your toothpaste leaves behind in your mouth will circulate in your saliva, washing over your teeth as you chew. When acids hit your teeth, they’re hitting with the same substance that counteracts their damage. That’s why a morning brush sets you up for healthier teeth throughout the day.
Your nighttime brushing session is the big reset. It’s taking away everything you’ve eaten throughout the day and allowing you to go to sleep with a clean and fresh mouth. Your body works on repairing itself while you sleep, and you aren’t eating or drinking anything. The reparative ingredients in your toothpaste begin working to strengthen your teeth while your mouth rebalances its good bacteria.
Even if you feel like your teeth are clean, you need to make sure both sessions are a full two minutes. When you use a soft bristled toothbrush, brushing for two minutes won’t irritate your teeth or gums. You need enough time to be thorough and make sure you’ve effectively scrubbed away all the debris.
2. Using Mouthwash
Unless you’re using a toothpaste with a natural antibacterial ingredient, brushing won’t harm any bacteria in your mouth. It will only help you remove them and spit them out. You aren’t brushing every surface of your mouth where bacteria may be present. Your tongue, the roof of your mouth, your gums, and the soft tissue inside of your cheeks holds just as much bacteria as your teeth.
In order to effectively cleanse your entire mouth, you need to swish around some mouthwash for at least thirty seconds. Whether you do that before or after you brush is often the subject of debate.
One camp of people says that mouthwash helps to remove stuck debris from on the teeth and around the inside of the mouth, making it easier to brush. The other camp says that using mouthwash after you’ve brushed will help you spit out everything you’ve knocked loose during the brushing process.
There’s another camp of people who prefer oil pulling to using mouthwash. Oil pulling, especially when coconut oil is used, can kill bacteria in the mouth. Coconut oil’s fatty acids are mostly comprised of lauric acid, a natural antibacterial agent. The texture of the oil is sticky, helping it to pull debris out of your mouth and from between your teeth, trapping them in a thick antibacterial vortex.
Give the sandwich method a try. Oil pull first to loosen everything in your mouth, brush your teeth to remove the slick that the oil leaves behind, and finish off with mouthwash. You’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of all three things.
3. Flossing Regularly
Flossing is boring and tedious. Nobody loves to do it. There’s no way to make it seem fun or exciting. The best motivator to floss is the threat of what will happen if you don’t. Bacteria and food particles accumulate in the tiny little crevices between each and every one of your teeth. Your toothbrush can remove some of them, but not all of them. The ones that stay behind will rot, taking your teeth with them and making your breath smell bad.
If you’re not an enthusiastic flosser, keep some floss on your bedside table. If you wind down for the night with some Netflix, you can floss before you brush while you’re watching your shows. Just make sure to wait until you’re done chowing on your favorite show snacks.
4. Eating a Balanced Diet
There is a comprehensive and lengthy list of things that your teeth should and should not have. Most of the things it shouldn’t have are sugar or acid. Any highly acidic food or any food with sugar is not going to agree with your mouth.
Acids, like in soda, vinegar, salsa, tomato sauce, fruit juice, citrus, and most things you would dip a chicken nugget in, are mildly corrosive substances. Repeated contact with your teeth can cause your enamel to erode away. When your enamel is gone, you’re never getting any more. Limit acidic foods and drinks, and try to eat them during your last meal of the day. That way they won’t sit too long before you tend to your teeth.
Sugar is a whole different thing. Sugar, by and large, is bacteria food. Bacteria love sugar, and they cannot wait to gobble it up. It passes through their system and they excrete it as lactic acid, a substance that will bore holes straight through your teeth.
Avoiding sugar is a good idea for many reasons. It protects your teeth, and it helps you keep your body in check. Your body was never meant to handle so much excess sugar, and overconsumption of sugary carbohydrates can lead to conditions like diabetes and obesity. Maybe it’s time to ditch the sugar for your overall wellbeing.
5. Remineralizing Your Teeth
Even if you take excellent care of your teeth, your enamel is going to need some help. A little bit of erosion will always be happening, even if you never eat sugar or anything acidic. Your enamel has a hard job to do and eating will take a toll on it. The best thing you can do is provide it with the minerals it needs to fill in the cracks and remain strong.
Remineralizing toothpastes with ingredients like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and other helpful trace nutrients can help to replenish what your enamel has lost. Brushing your teeth with them will help them mix with your saliva and strengthen your enamel’s weak points.
Some people choose to remineralize their teeth with fluoride. Fluoride use is a personal choice. Before you decide that fluoride will meet all of your dental health needs, make sure you understand the risks and benefits of using it twice a day.
6. Avoiding Teeth Whitening Products
White teeth does not always mean healthy teeth. In most cases, white teeth means fake teeth or significantly damaged teeth. Whitening toothpastes and treatments promise you a bright set of pearly whites that look brand new. They’ll deliver on this promise, but they don’t explain exactly how they work.
Peroxide is a very strong bleaching agent. It’s the active ingredient in hair bleaching and dyeing products. It’s used to remove laundry stains. It can completely oxidize blood out of a carpet. It’s really powerful stuff.
When you use peroxide on your enamel, you’re sending that peroxide straight through. Peroxide works by removing stains from the inside out, and it can’t do that without penetrating the enamel. This damages the enamel, leading to painful tooth sensitivity and weak teeth.
If you must use a whitening product, choose a whitening toothpaste designed to buff away surface stains, rather than a bleaching product that damages your teeth at every layer.
It might seem like a huge pain to keep your teeth healthy, but once you’ve ironed out the details, you can run through your whole routine on autopilot. Choose a toothpaste, a mouthwash, a toothbrush, and a floss that work well for you. Be mindful of the things that you eat and drink. Once you have a system down, taking excellent care of your teeth will occupy less than ten minutes of your time every day.
Source 1 - Lauric Acid
Source 2 - Acidic foods
Source 3 - peroxide bleach