If you have been tempted to try an internet fad that scrubs, scrapes or treats your teeth with something other than a soft bristled toothbrush, we implore you to inform yourself. We know you will reconsider!
Rinsing Your Mouth
Mouthwashes could be considered an original form of preventive dentistry, as this practice goes back to 2700 BC China, when saltwater was used to treat gum disease. We should all take a cue from history and skip mouthwashes with alcohol that can cause dry mouth, weaken enamel and kill good bacteria, too. Plus, the artificial dyes used in most varieties are linked with various forms of cancers. Remember gargling with salt water when you were a kid? Turns out this home remedy is backed by science. Studies show that salt protects gums, inhibits infections, inflammation, gum disease and cavities by drawing out and blocks bacteria and viruses.
- How to add salt water to your oral hygiene routine: Swish or gargle with ½ a teaspoon of salt mixed with warm water for 30 seconds to keep your gums and throat healthy.
Green Tea, a popular beverage consumed in Asia for the last 4-5,000 years, is the consummate health multi-tasker. Tannins, catechins and l-theanine in this powerful natural antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, are effective at helping keep your mouth healthy. These compounds fight bacteria, microbes, inflammation and free radicals, while soothing and healing irritation. Drink a cup of tea (without sugar) once a day can keep the bacteria, and more, at bay.
Tap water works well, too. Rinsing with fluoride-treated water rinses away food debris and acids produced by germs.
Nutritious food helps strengthen teeth and gums. M and phosphorous are found in dairy and fish (especially salmon). Vegan options for calcium include tofu and other soy-based foods, almonds and dark green, leafy vegetables. Phosphorus is additionally found in eggs and lean meat. Antioxidant Vitamin C present in broccoli, citrus, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and spinach, is excellent for protecting your gums.
Brush for Success
Electric toothbrushes earned the ADA seal of acceptance due to how well they keep mouths healthy. When used as directed, Sonicare is proven to safely and effectively ward off gum disease by removing plaque. These powered toothbrushes are especially helpful for people with stiffness in the fingers and hands, as they minimize the need to “scrub”. Manual and chewable toothbrushes also do the trick. Chewing on the little bristles of a chewable toothbrush serves to keep your teeth clean on the go, and are a great tool for senior and pediatric dental care patients who experience difficulty with brushing.
Hydrogen peroxide has wonderful teeth whitening properties, but how this powerful active is formulated is critical to prevent irritated gums and teeth. Opalescence professional teeth whitening products have pH balanced patented formulas that have been thoroughly studied and tested for their dental whitening results and safety.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Proceed with caution when looking to whiten teeth, or improve your oral health. Just as with everything, some things can help, while others could hurt. When it comes to keeping your mouth healthy, it is important to look at the facts. Here are some practices we don’t recommend:
You may have heard about the return of the ancient practice of cleaning your teeth with a twig frayed at the end to remove food debris. Just because a twig is organic, does not mean it is a good way to clean your teeth. Some ancient methods need to be left in the past. There are simply better ways to keep your mouth clean.
Baking soda used in many toothpastes is too abrasive and wears down the outside layer of your teeth, known as enamel. If you love that freshly polished feeling after a dental cleaning, leave the polishing to a professional dental office, and consider bumping your bi-annual dental cleaning up to quarterly.
Natural Dental Care Fads
As a family dentist we stay apprised of the fads that our patients hear about, and are committed to keeping your teeth healthy with methods that are proven. Unfortunately, many of the alternative methods seen on the internet do not deliver as promised, and can actually harm your teeth.
- Oil Pulling: The centuries old practice of swishing and sucking edible oils between your teeth to whiten teeth, prevent cavities or improve your dental health is simply not backed by science.
- Turmeric: An anti-inflammatory with pain-relieving benefits for the body and a great spice in foods. It is rumored to have teeth whitening properties, with no evidence to support that.
- Charcoal: This internet wellness and clean beauty craze has turned up in everything from skincare and detoxes, to dental care. The claims that it produces whiter brighter smiles are unsubstantiated. In fact, it is abrasive and potentially damaging for enamel.
- Fruit or Vinegar: Skip DIY lemon and apple cider vinegar teeth whitening remedies that damage enamel.
Go ahead and leave your coconut oil, olive oil, turmeric, fruit and vinegar in the kitchen, and the charcoal in the barbecue. If you have a dental need or are due for your regular trip to the dental clinic, make a dental appointment.