There’s more to a healthy mouth than brushing and flossing. The foods we consume and our eating habits also play an important role over the long-term. If you want to stand the best chance at maintaining optimal oral care, take a look at our 10 great eating habits for a healthy mouth below.
01. Stick to Water with Food
Technically water is the only liquid our body needs and when it comes to oral health, it’s the only drink we can fully rely on. This is especially true when eating food, which begins the process of bacteria growth.
Drinking soda, alcohol, acidic fruit juices, milk and pretty much everything else, simply add to this process.
However, water and a few other drinks like green tea are perfect for washing down excess food remnants and rinsing our mouths. Whenever you eat, water is an essential companion. In fact, even if you’d prefer a different drink, it doesn’t harm to have some water afterward.
02. Chew Xylitol Gum after Meals
Water’s not the only good thing for your teeth following meals. If you’re not an obsessive brusher (it can actually be bad to over brush), then chewing gum is a great way to break down the food and bacteria left behind.
Of course, this needs to be sugar-free. An even better option is xylitol gum which specifically targets the bacteria associated with plaque and tartar. However, it’s not a good idea to chew this throughout the day as it can have a laxative effect.
03. Avoid Excess Sugar and Candy
We all know this one, but it’s worth a reminder. Sugary foods like candy are one of the prime causes of cavities and should be avoided as much as possible. Not just for oral health, but overall health as well.
If you simply must have a sugary treat, follow it up with some water to ensure the excess sugar is not coating your mouth. It’s also a bad idea to consume such foods if it will be a long time before you next use a toothbrush.
After your evening meal, sure; at 10 am at the office? Not so good.
04. Maintain a Healthy Diet
An overall healthy diet is integral to oral health. This isn’t just because of food coming in to contact with your teeth and gums; you also need the underlying nutrients that make-up and maintain them. Poor nutrition also makes it more difficult to avoid and fight off infections.
Furthermore, foods that tend to bad for us (excess sugar and carbohydrates), also promote the bacterial growth that leads to decay and gum disease.
05. Get Enough Vitamin C
Out of all the vitamins, Vitamin C is one of the most important for oral health. In fact, a lack of Vitamin C can lead to weak gums that bleed when you brush or even bleed of their own accord!
This is because collagen helps build the connective tissues found in our gums and Vitamin C contributes to the body’s production of collagen.
Oranges and orange juice are a great way to get the essential vitamin, but it doesn’t hurt to take a supplement.
Calcium is also important for strong teeth, just as with bones.
06. Consume ‘Teeth Cleaning’ Foods
Did you know that some foods actually clean our teeth? This is achieved in a similar way to brushing (the friction of chewing the food). Certain foods also help kill bacteria!
The best teeth cleaning foods include apples (not a very acidic fruit), carrots, celery, and cucumber. It’s best to eat these in their natural and uncooked state. A crunchy raw carrot, for example, is much better than a soft mushy one.
07. Brush at the Right Times
It’s common to brush teeth right after eating, and while this advice isn’t necessarily wrong, brushing after eating certain foods can actually irritate the gums and speed up the erosion of tooth enamel.
This applies mainly to acidic foods like citrus fruits because you’re essentially brushing that acid around your mouth. Experts suggest waiting at least 30 minutes after consuming anything acidic before brushing. It will also help to drink and rinse with water beforehand.
08. Consult a Dentist
If you have concerns about how your eating habits are affecting your oral health, your first port of call should be a dentist, who can assess your teeth and gums and offer professional advice. Of course, this is not necessarily free (especially if you need to have some procedures done).
09. Don’t Overdo Citrus Fruits
It’s not often you hear ‘don’t eat fruits,’ but citrus fruits which are particularly acidic can damage tooth enamel, irritate gums and give rise to bacteria if consumed in excess.
Just don’t overdo it, consume the fruit along with other foods and remember to drink some water afterward.
10. Don’t Strain Your Teeth
There’s a physical element to eating that can put physical strain on your teeth and jaw – for example if you eat a lot of tough meat and hard candy.
While a healthy mouth is a strong mouth, you might not be starting from such a healthy point. The risk of damaging teeth just by eating is also more pronounced in the elderly population.
By following the above tips and combining them with regular brushing and flossing, you should be on your way to a healthy mouth and overall good health. Got any more tips of your own? Let us know in the comments below.