FAQS ABOUT ORAL HYGIENE WITH DR. BONNIE HOPE-ALLEN
ORAL HEALTH AND OVERALL HEALTH
Did you know there’s a link between your oral health and the health of your body overall? Studies show that poor oral health is linked to heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy complications, and more. The good news is that, together with the team at Cambie Broadway Dental, you can take great care of your oral health and possibly help prevent other health issues.
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body
Taking good care of your teeth and gums isn’t just about preventing cavities or bad breath.
The mouth is a window into the health of the body. It can show if you are not eating foods that are best for you or if you may be at risk for a disease. Diseases that affect the entire body (such as diabetes) may be noticed because of mouth sores or other oral problems.
The mouth is filled with many bacteria. Some of these bacteria are linked to tooth decay and periodontal, or gum disease. Periodontal disease may be connected with diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The exact connection is not yet known.
WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR A HEALTHY MOUTH
Healthy habits can equal a healthy mouth. Here are some oral health tips to get you started:
- Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is very important.
- Brush your teeth well twice a day. In addition, you should floss or use another between-the-teeth cleaner once a day. Consider also using an antimicrobial (germ-fighting) mouth-rinse every day.
- Choose dental products that have the Canadian Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. The CDA Seal tells you that the product is not only safe, but it also does what it says it does.
- Schedule regular dental visits. Professional cleanings are the only way to remove tartar (or calculus), which traps plaque bacteria along or below the gum-line.
- Tell your dentist about changes in your overall health, like any recent illnesses or ongoing conditions. Provide an updated health history including medication use—both prescription and over-the-counter products.
- Don’t smoke or chew tobacco. If you use tobacco, talk with your dentist about options for quitting.
- Manage dry mouth. Too little saliva in the mouth can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Many medicines cause dry mouth. If you think you may have dry mouth, talk with your dentist about ways to manage it.
Snack and Sip All Day? Risk Decay!
Do you sip soft drinks or other sugary drinks all day at your desk? Do you use breath mints or eat candy often? Instead of eating meals, do you snack all day? Do you often grab a sports or energy drink when you are tired?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be increasing your chances of tooth decay. Keep reading to find out why.
What and how often you eat can affect your teeth
Eating habits and food choices can lead to tooth decay, or cavities. A steady supply of sugary foods and drinks, including sports and energy drinks, can damage teeth. But snacking or “grazing” all day long can also lead to tooth decay.
Plaque (sounds like “back”) is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. When you do not remove plaque from your teeth every day, it builds up. Plaque bacteria use sugar to make acid that attacks enamel, the hard surface of the tooth. The acid can attack tooth enamel for up to 20 minutes after you consume sugary foods or drinks.
When you have sugary foods or drinks many times a day or sip the same sugary drink for a long time, acid attacks the enamel again and again. Repeated acid attacks can cause tooth decay, which must be treated by a dentist.
One way of making smarter food and drink choices is to read their labels to make sure they are low in added sugar.
A healthy diet keeps your mouth healthy
Eating a healthy diet helps keep you from feeling tired, getting sick, being overweight, and having other health problems, like tooth decay. A healthy diet is one that
- Is based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
- Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and nuts.
- Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
- Has foods in the amounts shown on the My Plate picture below.
Almost all foods have some type of sugar. You cannot and should not remove all sugar from your diet. Many foods and drinks, like apples, carrots, and milk, naturally contain sugars and have vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your body needs.
For teeth to be healthy, they need vitamins, protein, calcium, and phosphorous.
Reduce your risk of tooth decay
- Limit sugary drinks and snacks between meals. Remember, many sports and energy drinks have sugar, too. If you do snack, choose foods that are low in sugar and fat.
- If you have sugary foods and drinks, have them with meals. Saliva increases during meals and helps weaken acid and rinse food particles from the mouth.
- Chew sugarless gum that has the CDA Seal of Acceptance. Chewing gum for 20 minutes after meals has been shown to reduce tooth decay.
- Drink water. Drinking tap water with fluoride can help prevent tooth decay. And it can help wash away sugary drinks.
- See your dentist regularly.
Do you have questions about a specific oral health issue? Call Cambie Broadway Dental to set up an appointment.