Chew on This: Simple Tips for Dental Health

Did you know, in addition to Heart Health Month, February is National Children’s Dental Health Month? In case you missed our newsletter, chew on these great simple tips for protecting those pearly whites. Thanks to Artistic Smiles for offering insights and letting us use the smiling/smile-inspiring photo!

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Ever notice how, sometimes, the more toothsome a tempting treat may seem, the more trauma it means for your teeth? There’s no doubt about it, oral health issues–whether we’re talking tooth decay, unusual sensitivity, or something else–can really bite. What’s more, research continually emphasizes the significant connection between oral and overall health. In fact, in addition to being Heart Health Month, February hosts National Children’s Dental Health Month, so there’s no time like the present to fine-tune your routines when it comes to being proactive for your pearly whites, especially with Valentine’s Day at hand!
You’re already brushing and flossing, right? Limiting sticky, sugary foods and drinks? Well then, give yourself a pat on the back, keep up the great work, and check out these easy tips for extra help in showing off that stunning smile.
Snack on apples. An apple a day has potential to do a whole lot more for your health than just keep the doctor at bay! It may curb those dental expenses, too. Apples have often been referred to as nature’s toothbrush because they stimulate the gums and increase saliva flow, which helps to decrease the acidity in the mouth and wash away food particles. This helps to reduce built-up bacteria as well. Consider rounding off each midday meal with a crisp, juicy apple or other fresh fruit, and routinely pack in kids’ lunchboxes.
Go for clean and crisp. In addition to apples, crisp, firm foods like raw carrots, celery, and even popcorn help clean teeth as soon as they’re eaten, removing sticky particles and increasing saliva. Include these in your end-of-meal routine when you know the chance to brush is a little while away.
Chuck the brush. Simply remembering to get a new toothbrush (or change the head on your electric one) every two to three months goes a long way in promoting oral hygiene. Over time, bacteria build-up means you’re doing little more than transferring bacteria around your mouth when brushing. Remember too, hold your toothbrush at approximately a 45-degree angle for best results.
Swish. If you can’t brush after eating, try at least quickly rinsing your mouth with water to remove debris. Mouth rinses with fluoride can also be a useful part of your dental hygiene routines, shown to help prevent or reduce tooth decay. Gargling a little apple cider vinegar in the morning occasionally before brushing as usual may also help remove stains, naturally whiten teeth, and kill bacteria; be sure to brush and rinse with water afterward, as vinegar is highly acidic and could damage enamel over time.
Eat a balanced diet. Just as unhealthy teeth and gums can be indicators of more widespread health problems, so too can a diet that’s healthy for your body as a whole be helpful for your teeth. Choose nutritious, whole foods to get the nutrition you need. Some studies suggest hearty-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish such as wild salmon and sardines, as well as some plant based sources like walnuts and flaxseeds, can reduce inflammation and help prevent gum disease.
Check in with your dentist. Regular cleanings are essential for the whole family. Skipping out is likely to land you feeling penny-wise, pound foolish. It is recommended kids visit the dentist regularly from the time they are three. For teething babies, wipe gums with a washcloth after feeding to help control plaque buildup. Anytime a baby is given a bottle in the crib, be sure it contains water only, cautions Dr. Cliff Rogge, DDS, longtime Longmont resident and owner of Artistic Smiles. Baby bottle syndrome, caused by milk or juice from a bottle pooling around the teeth, causes rapid decay and extensive damage to baby teeth. “Parents, start brushing your infant’s teeth when the first tooth erupts in the mouth,” Dr. Rogge advises. “Young children do not have the dexterity or attention span to do an adequate job; plus, accepting help from a parent or trusted adult gets them used to having someone working in their mouth, very helpful for that first dental visit!”
Photo credit: Artistic Smiles

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