Helpful Hints for Healthy Teeth
Don't believe everything you hear about what is good or bad for your pearly whites.
Don't Overbrush Your Teeth continued...
Price recommends them only for a gentle lavage before or after brushing.
"Do not turn it on like a fire hose," he instructs.
Similarly, prebrush rinses, Price says, are no substitute for brushing.
These methods should be used together.
Toothpaste is an abrasive, with some therapeutic additions, namely fluoride,
which strengthens enamel and can shore up little breaches in it before cavities
Brushing itself should be gentle, with the bristles at a 45-degree angle to
the teeth, Paskerian says. Swish gently with an oval motion rather than raking
the brush side to side across the teeth.
What about the ever-popular floss? Paskerian recommends the easy-glide type
-- daily, of course. Since the dentin between teeth is not fully mineralized
with hard enamel, don't saw away like mad. Paskerian is also skeptical of the
new "paste" floss -- that means an abrasive is being pulled over the
dentin, he says.
Homemade drugs full of industrial chemicals, such as methamphetamine (meth),
can ruin teeth in short order. There is even a term for the rottenness and
missing teeth -- meth mouth. Muriatic acid, used to strip cement floors, is one
ingredient. "These drugs also cause dry mouth, leaving the teeth open to
plaque, Price says. "And the users tend to be tense and grind their
teeth." (Not to mention not being too picky about brushing, flossing, and
taking care of their teeth.)
But even some more respectable drugs, such as tetracycline and other
full-spectrum antibotics, can cause discoloration in permanent teeth if kids
take them before age 10 -- and now they are finding that adults can get color
changes from some adult acne antibiotics, too, Price says.
"Discuss antibiotics with your dentist and doctor," he advises.
"Sometimes, the dentist can prescribe a high-content fluoride rinse, which
Other drugs may cause dry mouth or bleeding gums.
Nicotine, of course, stains teeth, but there are also some chemicals in the
burning paper that can cause discoloration, and the heat in a smoker's mouth
can impede circulation and encourage gum disease.
Although it is not usually the first problem with bulimia that comes to
mind, people who binge and vomit also eat away their teeth with acid.
Also -- lemon chewing is out! Both dentists mentioned this -- is there a lot
of that going around?
Drinking bottled water exclusively can also be a problem. Check to see if
it's fluoridated. If it doesn't say, call the company, Price advises.
And researchers have now found that obesity and insulin resistance may be
linked to periodontal disease. So stick with your healthy eating to stay out of
the dental chair.
What About Sugar?
What was Mom's biggest refrain about teeth? Sugar! "You will ruin those
Sugar, both dentists say, is not the problem. How long the sugar stays on
teeth is the problem. Given enough time, the bacteria in your mouth feed on the
sugar and excrete damaging acid that can eat through enamel forming
So if you eat candy, brush afterward if you can.
Or chew some gum! Amazingly, even sugar gum is not a big no-no for teeth,
the dentists say. It churns up lots of saliva, which carries off the sugar in
Some sugarless gum, containing xylitol, is even a good decay-preventer. In
fact, in California, researchers are trying to make Gummi Bears into a dental
aid by making them with xylitol.
Soda, too, is not too much of a tooth problem, if you brush or drink water
afterward. In fact, the diet kind contains more phosphates than can be acidic
to enamel and may be a bigger threat to your choppers than regular.
Dark chocolate is not too bad for your teeth, either, Price notes.
Well, that makes it all worthwhile!
That -- and not having to crush all that ice anymore.