Healthy Mouth: Help or Hurt?

Healthy Mouth: Help or Hurt?

Through our different conversations with our patients several things come up asking “is this good or bad for our teeth”. We thought we would bring up some of those items of discussion for you here.

(+) Gum. Sugarless gum chewed for 20 minutes or so after a meal helps your moth make more saliva that helps wash the food bits out of your mouth and balances some of the acids that germs make.

(+) Green Tea. This has been a favorite drink in Asia for more than 4,000 years, and with good reason. Researchers have found that, in addition to other possible health benefits, green tea can help your gums and teeth stay healthy. That may be thanks in part to a chemical in it that helps your body fight inflammation.

(+) Salt Water. We know, it doesn’t taste great, but it does help fight germs in your mouth. If you have red or sore gums sloshing half a teaspoon in warm water in your mouth for 30 seconds and then spitting it out will help. It also helps if you have a scratch throat from a cold.

(+) Nutrients. A healthy diet is good for your mouth, too. Calcium and phosphorous can make your teeth stronger. You can get calcium from low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, and cheese; soy drinks and tofu; canned salmon; almonds; and dark green, leafy vegetables. Phosphorus comes from eggs, fish, lean meat, and dairy products. Vitamin C, which helps your gums, is in citrus fruit, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and spinach.

(+) Water. Your body is about 70% water, so it’s a good idea in to get plenty of it. It’s especially good for your mouth and teeth. Many local water systems adds fluoride to water, that helps fight cavities. Water sloshing washes away food particles and thins out the acids that germs make. Your body also turns water into saliva, which helps you swallow and supplies calcium to strengthen your teeth.

(+) Electric Toothbrush. Either electric or hand toothbrushes can do what your mouth needs. It’s just important to use them correctly and often.

(+) Chewable Toothbrush. This is kind of a cross between a toothbrush and gum. It has little bristles that rub against your teeth and gums as you chew. When you finish, you spit it out. Researchers have found that these can help clean your teeth, and they may be especially good for kids and seniors whose fingers and hands have a hard time handling a toothbrush.

(+ -) Oil Pulling. The idea here is to put a spoonful of coconut oil, olive oil, or some other edible oil in your mouth, and slosh it around and suck it between your teeth. It’s been done for centuries in India and South Asia, but there’s no scientific evidence that it fights cavities, whitens your teeth, or boosts your oral health in any way.

(-) Baking Soda and Peroxide. People have been trying this combo to clean and whiten their teeth for generations. But it’s hard to get the mixture right. If the peroxide is too strong, it may irritate your teeth and gums. And the baking soda, which is a little harsh, can wear down enamel.

(-) Whitening Products. There is the over-the-counter whitener that uses peroxide (on strips or brushed onto your teeth) to bleach your teeth or you can choose toothpaste that uses gentle friction and chemicals to go after surface stains. They can work fairly well for some people, but your best bet may be to start with a treatment at our office, then follow up with one of these at home items.

(-) Turmeric. This spice is a key ingredient in curry powder. Folk medicine from South Asia has long used it to ease breathing problems, pain, and other ailments. You may have heard that turmeric also can whiten your teeth, but there’s no proof that it does that.

(-) Charcoal. Toothpastes and powders that promise to whiten your teeth using this have been around for a long time, and sellers on the Internet have brought them back into the spotlight. But there’s no evidence that it does anything for your teeth, or that it’s even safe to use that way. More research needs to be done to know for sure, but charcoal could hurt your teeth by scraping them.

(-) Fruit or Vinegar. Some home methods of teeth whitening have you start with something that has acids (like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar) or fruit with chemicals that help with digestion (like pineapple or mango). You mix that with something abrasive, like baking soda, and brush with it. In short, don’t. If the acid in fruit or vinegar rubs against your teeth, it can eat away at the enamel.

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