When we think of the kind of smile we want to have, perhaps our minds go right to keeping it bright white, with straight teeth (and perhaps no bits of food stuck in between our front teeth).But a truly beautiful smile is one that consists of healthy, vibrant teeth thriving from the inside out. Attaining this kind of oral health can be a challenge with all of the outside factors that can break down our enamel and weaken our teeth.
But it is possible to keep your teeth strong by avoiding certain foods and drinks while adopting some easy but effective new practices into your routine. Keeping up a simple and steady oral care ritual can get you the smile you’ve always wanted, and the strong teeth you need.
What Causes Our Teeth to Become Weak?
Our teeth are made up of two layers surrounding a softer, very sensitive pulp center. A tooth can become weakened as a result of the breakdown of these layers. The outermost layer of our teeth, called enamel, should be smooth, firm, and white. It is made up of vital minerals which help prevent tooth decay and protect us against cavities. These minerals create a shield to help protect the strength of our enamel.
Unfortunately, over time we lose the density of mineral coverage in a process called demineralization. This process can weaken our teeth, and leave the pulp (center of the tooth) susceptible to infection, irritation, and pain. If the process is aggressive enough, damage to your teeth can become irreversible. However, demineralization can be managed and even improved if caught early-on and managed regularly.
In this article we will discuss ways to remineralize your teeth, strengthen your enamel, protect the more vulnerable laters of your teeth, and ensure that the smile you want is healthy on the inside, too.
How to Strengthen Your Teeth
Always Use Flouride
This is, hands down, our number one with a bullet for protecting the integrity of your teeth. The ADA recommends using a toothpaste containing fluoride because of its protective and remineralization properties. Fluoride binds to your teeth to create a barrier against acidic foods and drinks, protect against plaque build-up, and resist cavity activity.
While too much fluoride can cause white blotchy stains on teeth, especially in children, resist any temptation to forego it all together. The fact is, toothpaste without fluoride cannot protect your teeth against cavities like a fluoride toothpaste can.
Instead of leaving fluoride toothpaste in the dust, look for a product with the right balance of ingredients, while leaving out any unwanted chemicals and harmful ingredients. We here at Twice have created a wonderful selection of toothpaste that we love to use morning, noon, and night! Healthy teeth, quality ingredients, fresh breath, and a delightful taste? Yes, please.
Brush, Brush, Brush
If we are going to tell you to use a fluoride toothpaste, we are obviously going to touch on the importance of brushing your teeth regularly. Think about it, fluoride toothpaste only works when you’re using it!
Make space for healthy minerals by keeping bacteria and plaque build-up off of your teeth. Brush twice each day, or more if you are snacking frequently, and encourage enamel efficacy. Be careful not to scrub too hard. It may feel like you are buffing away unwanted bacteria, but soft bristles and subtle brushing are best! Your enamel can’t take too much gusto when you brush.
Rather than focusing on how hard you brush, focus on how often. So keep up with the standard, and feel free to throw in some extra brushing if you’ve eaten foods high in acid, sugar, and starch.
Limit Your Sweets and Carbohydrates
It cannot be stressed enough that foods can be harmful to your teeth, especially those that are high in sugar. Sugary and sticky foods can easily cling to the surface of your teeth and create the perfect atmosphere for plaque to go to work eating away at your enamel. It is best to limit your intake of sugary sweets like ice cream, juices, cakes and cookies, and candy.
If you are going to limit your sugar intake, you should also consider starches, as well. Your body treats simple carbohydrates like sugar, so your teeth will be in just as much danger from these starchy foods as that cupcake.
Use Mouthwash and Floss
As you grow your practice of brushing your teeth twice every day, you may want to throw in some flossing and use a mouthwash at least once a day as well. While brushing is an extremely effective tool for keeping your teeth free of plaque, your bristles cannot always get into every small space in your teeth. For this purpose, it is a good idea to reinforce your brushing by using mouthwash and flossing. These two toothbrush sidekicks can get into spaces that your toothbrush cannot and the mouthwash can help rinse away plaque and protect your enamel.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water is nature’s mouthwash. We know it cleanses the body of toxins, and it can do the same for your teeth. Hydrate your body, wash your teeth of those unwanted food particles and plaque, and encourage saliva production by drinking plenty of H2O each and every day.
Yes, chew gum! (Just make sure it’s sugar-free.) You may be catching onto a theme here. The theme is that your mouth needs to be rinsed out often and your saliva helps accomplish that. No, this does not replace brushing your teeth. You still need to scrub with a little fluoride toothpaste every day. But, chewing sugarfree gum can help pull food particles from your teeth, so chew away, and brush twice a day!
Get Your Daily Servings of Calcium
We try to eat the right amounts of fruits, veggies, and protein each day, and we all know that getting your daily amount of calcium helps make your bones strong. But did you know that calcium is good for your teeth, as well? It’s true! While teeth are not exactly bones, they are similar in that they too need calcium to retain strength.
Sugary and acidic foods in particular can deplete the natural levels of calcium contained by your teeth. However, this study suggests that eating a diet rich in calcium may actually counteract the damaging effects of eating sugary foods.
Some of the best, calcium-rich foods to work into your diet are broccoli, spinach, milk, yogurts, and cheeses, and breads made with fortified flour, just to name a few.
Prevent Dry Mouth
If plaque and bacteria become stagnant on and between your teeth for too long, they wear down the enamel and cause demineralization. One easy way to flush out plaque and retain necessary minerals is to make sure you are producing enough saliva. A few ways to help keep your mouth salivated and able to rinse itself often are by sipping water throughout the day, avoiding caffeinated drinks, and reducing your salt intake. Some mouthwashes can be good for saliva production, but you’ll want to steer clear of those which contain drying alcohols, no matter how minty fresh they make your mouth feel.
Limit Your Dairy Consumption
While you do want your teeth to have lots of calcium, some dairy products are higher in sugars, which we know can be harmful to our teeth. You can still get calcium from eating foods like leafy greens, some fish, and soybeans, to name a few. If you are going to eat dairy, it is best to consume full-fat items as they are lower in sugar. (Go for half and half over skim milk, for example.)
Keep Acidic Foods To a Minimum
Sugar is not the only danger to your tooth enamel. Foods that are high in acid, even though they may provide needed vitamins, can speed up the erosion of your teeth. Citrus fruits tend to be higher in acid, so make sure to drink water, rinse with mouthwash, or brush if possible soon after eating these kinds of foods.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Aside from brushing with a daily fluoride toothpaste, making sure you visit your dentist regularly is also important. It is recommended that you schedule cleanings every six months. During these cleanings, a dental professional will thoroughly clean your mouth of any tartar or plaque build-up. Additionally, your dentist can fill cavities and provide fluoride treatments for an extra boost of enamel strengthening protection.
Aside from regular cleanings, your dentist will be able to examine your teeth to pinpoint and address any issues or concerns you may have with your teeth and provide a thorough and customized plan for keeping your teeth strong every day, in between dental check-ups.
If you use these simple tools regularly, you will have the strong, healthy teeth you desire and a beautiful smile to go along with them. These are just a few things you can do to stop the deterioration of your teeth, and keep them mineralized and strong.