Next time you pick up a new tube of toothpaste or a new toothbrush at the drug store, think about buying some straws as well. It turns out they are good tool for oral hygiene.
Think about it. When sugary drinks and juice are routinely allowed to sit on teeth, it can cause an acidic reaction that can eventually lead to plaque build up or tooth decay, or hide away under the gums to wreak havoc there with numbness and swelling and eventually periodontal disease. Likewise, when some juices, coffee or tea are allowed to sit on the teeth, they can stain, similar to the staining you see when coffee sits in a porcelain cup.
But what if you sipped your sweet and stain producing drinks through a straw? Indeed, the liquid culprit would just bypass the teeth and mouth and go right down the throat. Of course some beverages, such as hot tea or coffee, would be challenging to drink through a straw, but most cold drinks could be consumed in this teeth-saving manner.
Other tips for avoiding the harmful effects of starchy food or sugars on your teeth when your away from home or a toothbrush include rinsing the mouth with water or following the meal or snack with milk, which is alkaline and helps to neutralize the acid in foods.
Of course the best way to avoid plaque and cavities is to follow a religious routine of brushing at least twice daily, especially after meals, and flossing once a day. See your dentist for a checkup once a year, and have a professional dental cleaning and checkup every six months – even more frequently if needed.
In the meantime, when you reach for a drink at your local bodega and you haven’t got your toothbrush with you, get a straw to go as well. You might avoid a cavity or two down the road.
Posted on Behalf of Wayne G. Suway, DDS, MAGD
You may have heard recent studies that have claimed that chewing gum after a meal will help prevent gum disease and tooth decay, and you may be wondering if this is true or not. This article will discuss the role of chewing gum in maintaining good oral health.
Recent studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for about 15-20 minutes after a meal will help prevent cavities, tooth decay, plaque formation and gum disease. It is important to note that this finding only applies to gums without sugars.
The sugarless gum chewing after a meal works by increasing the amount of saliva you make in your mouth. This saliva will help remove extra food parts, sugars, and other odds and ends left over after a meal. Removing this extra food-stuff will help decrease the plaque production that ultimately results in acid that will eat through your tooth enamel. There is an added bonus to chewing sugarless gum. Not only are extra particles removed, the increase in saliva may also help strengthen tooth enamel as more calcium and phosphate are produced, resulting in stronger tooth enamel.
Chewing sugarless gum should never be a substitute for good dental care habits such as regular brushing and flossing and seeing your dentist twice a year for dental cleanings and checkups. However, chewing sugarless gum is a great habit to get into during the work-day when brushing is difficult. It is important to look for gum with the ADA seal. These are the only gums that are truly ‘sugar-free’. Be careful to buy sugar-free gums before you pick up the gum chewing habit during the day!
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