Why is enamel so important?The enamel on your teeth is a protective outer layer on each tooth. It is the hardest and most highly mineralized substance in your body. Every time you eat and drink, you expose your teeth to acids and bacteria that are in your food. This would seriously harm teeth if it weren’t for tooth enamel. It’s the most visible part of the tooth, and it’s what people see when you smile or open your mouth. When enamel is damaged or starts to decay, you cannot restore it: enamel simply doesn’t grow back. Sensitivity to hot and cold foods will occur. Here are a few oral hygiene steps to follow to ensure the maximum upkeep of tooth enamel.
Brush regularly (but not too hard)Many people brush regularly, but simply don’t brush enough for their teeth to stay clean. It is recommended to brush just before bed and at one other time during the day with fluoride toothpaste. Using an electric toothbrush is better for you and your enamel than manual toothbrushes for several reasons. They are constantly rotating and cleaning as you move over your teeth and they rotate at a far higher speed than you could achieve with your hand, providing a deeper clean. Thus they can help to get rid of surface stains without applying too much pressure on the tooth’s surface.
Use a mouthwashDrinks high in sugar, like fizzy drinks, are the number one culprits as they are tremendously high in sugar and very acidic. This combination accelerates the loss of your tooth enamel. A good mouthwash can go where toothbrushes and floss can’t to rid your mouth of the same debris that irritates the gum line and causes gingivitis. Add a quality alcohol-free mouthwash to your oral care regime to get the most thorough clean you can, even when you’re on the go.
Pick the correct toothpasteOne common misconception when it comes to oral hygiene and tooth enamel is that teeth whitening formulas are healthy. However, whitening toothpaste that contains peroxide can be too harsh on your enamel due to the peroxide content which can damage your enamel and can cause increased and unwanted sensitivity. Instead, choose a toothpaste that gently removes stains without the use of peroxide. The vital ingredient to protecting your enamel is fluoride, which helps to remineralize your enamel and protects your teeth’s sensitivity.
Floss properlyLike brushing, flossing must be done properly so that, when you reach between teeth, you get to the plaque not reached by your toothbrush. Brushing only gets around 50% of the plaque buildup, so spending a few minutes each day flossing helps to get to those hard-to-reach areas. Ideally, use a floss tape that can be more gentle on gums, and make sure to floss morning and evening. https://www.dentalhealth.org/blog/brushing-and-beyond-taking-care-of-your-oral-health
It’s critically important to help heal the misunderstandings that our culture has around how to navigate the path to greater oral health.
Let’s study 5 aspects of how diet and nutrition can impact oral health.
5 dietary recommendations to positively impact oral health
- Have sufficient fat-soluble vitamins in our diet (vitamins A, D, E, and K2)
- Have plenty of vitamins B and C in our diet
- Have sufficient minerals in our diet
- Avoid too many foods that are high in acid
- Avoid eating too much sugar (in all forms)
In this article, let’s explore the inner workings of diet’s impact on oral health.
To put into perspective the role that diet plays in helping or undermining our oral health, this first article is going to explore the work of Dr. Ralph Steinman.
Dr. Steinman was a dental researcher in the 1970s who did extensive research to determine the cause of tooth decay. He published his work in his amazing book, Dentinal Fluid Transport. He conducted tens of thousands of experiments on lab rats to determine the cause of tooth decay. What he found may surprise you.
What is dentinal fluid flow? (and how does it impact my oral health?)
Fundamentally, what Dr. Steinman discovered is that our teeth are alive.
Contrary to the popular cultural belief that teeth are like small rocks, the fact is that our teeth have fluid running through them, and this is called ‘dentinal fluid flow’.
The dentin is the layer of tissue in each of our teeth that’s just between the hard outer (enamel) surface and the inner soft tooth pulp.
Dr. Steinman discovered that this dentinal fluid flow is part of the blood circulation that goes into and out of each of our teeth.
He also discovered that when the dentinal fluid is flowing from the inside of the tooth outward, the teeth are very resistant to decay. However, when the fluid flow reverses and flows from the outer surface of the tooth towards the inner portion of the tooth, decay sets in very quickly.
The thug bugs in our mouths contribute to tooth decay. If the dentinal fluid is flowing the healthy way, this flow prevents the thug bugs from being able to decay the teeth; the flow washes them out of the teeth. It’s like they have to swim upstream to get into the teeth. On the other hand, if the dentinal fluid flow reverses, then it’s like the thug bugs get a free pass on a highway right into our teeth!
Dr. Steinman found that dentinal fluid flow is controlled by the parotid gland, a part of our salivary system that is located in the region behind our lower jaw. Then he discovered that the parotid gland is controlled by the part of our brain called the hypothalamus. For the sake of simplicity, let’s refer to this relationship between dentinal fluid flow, the parotid gland, and the hypothalamus as ‘dentinal fluid flow’.
With these pieces in place, Dr. Steinman’s work helped us to understand that a healthy, balanced diet not only helps to control the thug bugs responsible for dental decay, but also helps to maintain a healthy, living tissue within the teeth that can help resist decay through healthy dentinal fluid flow.
1.Sugar by any other name is still sugarWhen we think of sugar we probably picture the white stuff you pop in our tea. But there are many ‘hidden’ sugars in lots of things we would not even think of. Sugar can go by many names and recognizing them is the first step to avoiding them. There are too many to list but some to look out for are; sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, molasses, hydrolyzed starch, and corn syrup.
2.Have a smarter breakfastA certain celebrity chef recently brought attention to the dangerously high levels of sugar in some breakfast cereals, with some shockingly made up of almost a third of the sugar. Switching out for a lower sugar cereal or one with no added sugar, and not adding any yourselves, will have a massive impact on your dental health and your health overall. Filling up at breakfast time is also a great way to avoid those unhealthy snacks throughout the day.
3.Snack happyIt’s 10:30 and we get that urge. It’s a little too far away from lunch and we need something to tide us over. Don’t reach for the biscuit barrel, a handful of nuts will provide that energy boost you need. Remember it’s not only about how much sugar we eat when it comes to your teeth it’s also about how often, so try opting for a sugar-free alternative whenever possible.
4.Fat-free is not trouble-freeMany products are marketed as a ‘healthy alternative’, but those claims on the packaging are only telling part of the story. Often products such as fat-free yogurts still contain high levels of sugars in the form of fructose or refined sugar.
5.Work out some ground rulesLet’s be honest, we don’t need a sweet dessert every day! By setting a set of simple ground rules we can make some simple lifestyle changes that can have a huge effect. Simple things like not eating in the hour before you go to bed, avoiding adding sugar to anything, and making sure we avoid dessert a few times a week soon add up.
6.Get freshWhen it comes to our teeth fresh whole foods are best, this all comes down to stickiness. By smashing up a banana and strawberry into a smoothie it releases the sugars which can coat the whole tooth, even in the tiny gaps, eating them whole helps to avoid this problem. And when it comes to stickiness dried fruit is a big no-no, this stuff can get right in those gaps giving the sugar a huge amount of time to cause problems.
7.Set a quotaWhen it comes to our teeth, it’s not only about how much sugar we eat, it’s how often we have it. It takes an hour for our mouth to return to a neutral state after eating or drinking and every time we have another mouthful that time starts again. Constant grazing can leave us with a toothless grin so if we do need a sugar fix, keep it to mealtimes and give our mouth a break.
8.Hit the hay earlyBeing a night owl can spell bad news for our mouth and this is all down to a routine. People who stay up late are more likely to skip brushing before bed and with the added midnight snacking this could spell disaster for our teeth.
9.The most important meal of the dayHow many of us have skipped breakfast and then yearn for that sugary fix to get us through the day? This comes down again to giving our mouths a break to recover, having a filling and nutritious breakfast is the best way to start your day right.
10.Drinking like a fishWhether it’s that pint of cider, a glass of prosecco, or even a cheeky G&T, the sugar in them can have a huge impact on our oral health. Try to moderate the number of alcoholic drinks you have and also have some water nearby to help wash down your tipple of choice. It helps wash some of the sugar from the mouth and our head will thank you for the next day too.
11.Keep an eye on your coffee orderOur double chocolaty chip crème frappuccino or tiramisu latte with extra whipped cream from our favorite coffee place may be delicious, and fun to say, but let’s be honest we know it’s laden with sugar. If we do need a caffeine fix and have a sweet tooth try to keep it to mealtimes, or we could just stick with an Americano or espresso. https://www.dentalhealth.org/blog/11-tips-to-cut-down-on-sugar-ending-our-addiction-to-sugar
Written by- Oral Health Foundation
How eating disorders can affect your mouth: and how your dental team can help spot early signs
Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder all have negative effects on the mouth, their symptoms can range from slight to severe and dental professionals are often among the first to identify possible red flags.
Multiple studies have shown eating disorders can affect oral health. That’s why the Oral Health Foundation is supporting Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
In this blog post, let’s look at what the main symptoms of each condition are, how they can affect the health of your mouth, and how your dental team can help you.
What is anorexia?
People with anorexia nervosa limit their intake of food and drink and have a fear of gaining weight. Many people with anorexia attribute their self-worth to their caloric intake and punish themselves for eating too much or eating the “wrong types” of foods.
What is bulimia?
Bulimia nervosa is a binge eating disorder and is diagnosed based on binge-purge patterns of eating. To meet the criteria for a diagnosis of bulimia you must be binging (taking in an excessive amount of calories in one sitting) and purging (expelling food/calories through excessive exercise, taking laxatives, or forcing yourself to vomit) for a prolonged period of time on a regular basis.
People with bulimia may also experience symptoms such as tiredness, bloating and/or constipation, abdominal pain, and irregular menstrual cycles.
What is a binge eating disorder?
Binge eaters have previously been classified as food addicts. They will often take in large quantities of food and/or drink without feeling like they are in control of what they are doing, these binges can be planned ahead of time with the sufferer buying “special” foods to binge on, or they could be spontaneous.
Binge eaters are not “overindulging” on foods or simply just having large portions, these are not enjoyable experiences and often cause a lot of distress and embarrassment for sufferers.
Characteristics of a binge eating episode include eating faster than normal, eating until feeling uncomfortably full, eating large amounts of food when you don’t feel hungry, eating alone due to embarrassment at the amount being eaten, and feelings of disgust, shame, or guilt during/after the binge.
How can eating disorders affect the health of your mouth?
All of these eating disorders affect your health, have negative effects on sufferers’ bodies, and should be treated as serious health conditions.
Potential negative effects of vitamin and nutrient deficiencies can cause the body to shut down and not function properly and that will also be reflected in the mouth. Oral signs of eating disorders can include:
- Enamel erosion
- Dry mouth
- Enlarged salivary glands
- Cracked/dry lips
- Mouth sores
- Tooth decay
- Sensitive teeth
- Bruising and/or injury to the mouth
- dull headaches
- jaw soreness
- teeth that are painful or loose
- fractured teeth
- irritation in the mouth
- misaligned teeth