Keeping up with good oral hygiene is vital to maintaining a beautiful, functional smile and preventing dental problems, such as gum disease and tooth decay. If you’re worried about having neglected your teeth in the past, be advised: It’s never too late to start investing in your oral health.
Healthy teeth require daily care. We will discuss the do’s and don’ts of oral hygiene to help you make smarter choices and develop healthier habits. It starts with using the right oral care products and being mindful when it comes to the daily habits that may affect your teeth and gums. And yes, that includes brushing your teeth twice daily, making sure to use floss once a day and getting regular dental checkups. But there are some less obvious things to keep in mind - but we’ll get to that in a moment.
If you’ve already had a tooth replacement, dental implant or denture fit, you too will greatly benefit from impeccable oral hygiene. All-on-4® with dental implants, for example, are a great investment in your health. As such, they should be taken extra good care of. Functioning and looking just like natural teeth, they require the same amount of dedication to oral hygiene.
The Theory Behind Dental Hygiene
If you’re frustrated by the state of your teeth and find yourself, again and again, suffering from cavities and stained teeth, you should know that it’s not always your fault. Everyone is different and depending on your genetic makeup, your dental journey can greatly vary from that of others. You see, the often-used attitude “some people just have good teeth” isn’t far from the truth.
Some of us can brush and floss religiously, yet we will still be prone to getting more cavities than our friend who regularly skips brushing their teeth and hasn’t seen a dentist in years. Whilst we aren’t able to change our DNA, we can, however, turn our attention towards another culprit: Our diet. It is true: What you eat can greatly affect the long term health of your mouth.
Your Diet and pH Balance in the Mouth
What does pH stand for, you’re wondering? The acronym stands for ‘potential hydrogen’ and describes the acidity or alkalinity level of a substance, in this case, your saliva. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 representing neutrality.
- Saliva normally has a pH between 6.7 and 7.4
If the pH of your saliva is higher or lower than the average, you’re risking a range of dental health issues.
- Tooth decay can occur when the pH level in the mouth is 5.5 or lower
Your tooth enamel may be a very hard substance, but it can easily be damaged by acidic saliva. When you consume acidic foods or drinks, the pH of your saliva drops below 5.5 and the enamel starts to break down, causing permanent damage. If your pH levels stay low for a prolonged time, it can increase bacteria growth.
When those bacteria attack your teeth, the results can be devastating. Since tooth enamel doesn’t grow back, small and large cavities don’t heal themselves. A dentist visit is then the next logical step. They will usually repair the cavity with a filling. In some cases, more extensive restorations may be necessary.
If you would like to test the pH levels of your saliva, you can obtain a test kit from your local chemist.
How to Balance Your Oral pH and Stop Erosion
The number one tip given by dentists may surprise you: Drinking through a reusable straw is not only great for the environment, it also keeps sugary, acidic drinks from getting in contact with your teeth. Drinking through a straw also helps to avoid the discolouration of your front teeth.
To keep your saliva’s pH levels between 6.7 and 7.4, you’ll want to be mindful about the consumption of the following foods:
- Citrus fruit: Snacking on oranges and lemons may sound healthy, but it puts your teeth at risk since high acidity can break down your enamel. This includes fruit juice and adding lemon to your water or tea too. Be mindful of your consumption!
- Soft drinks and sports drinks: If a drink is carbonated or sour, it’s wise to limit how much of it you’re consuming.
- Coffee: We’re sorry to say it, but coffee not only stains your teeth and causes bad breath, but it is also quite acidic and feeds the cavity-causing bacteria growing in your mouth. Limit your consumption to a cup per day.
- Kombucha: The trendy, new health elixir is famous for its many health benefits. What most of us don’t know: It isn’t so great for your teeth. High in acid, it is your enamel’s worst enemy. If you can’t live without, drink it through a reusable straw.
- Bread: We know what you’re thinking - ‘Not the bread’! It is sad but true, grains fall in the acidic food category. So it’s simply the best to limit your intake.
- Artificial Sweeteners: You’re not doing your teeth a favour with sugar alternatives such as honey or xylitol. Both are acidic and can harm your enamel. But there is good news, too: Stevia is alkaline and can offer a sweet alternative.
- Condiments: Ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard are highly acidic. Other foods you should stay away from including canned vegetables and tuna, as well as peanut butter.
- Alcohol: At this point, you won’t be surprised to hear that your beer and wine are acidic, too. Drinking alcohol will soften your enamel.
Keeping Your Teeth Healthy and Beautiful
Here are some tips and tricks to keeping the pH of your saliva balanced, including foods and drinks that help you protect your oral health:
- Add more veggies to your diet: Your teeth will thank you! Some vegetables may be acidic, but many others aren’t and will help neutralise the pH in your mouth. Reduce your intake of olives, lentils, corn and pickled vegetables, and instead bet on red capsicum, asparagus, spinach and broccoli.
- Eat something that will offset the acidity: After acidic meals, drinks or snacks, rinse your mouth with water. Dairy is said to help neutralise acids, so you may snack on a slice of cheese, too. Some other ideas for neutralising foods include mango, apples and carrots.
- Don’t rush to brush: Wait thirty minutes to an hour before you brush your teeth after eating acidic foods or drinking coffee or soft drinks. This gives your saliva the chance to wash away acids and harden your enamel.
- Get dental check-ups: Twice a year should be the minimum. Your dentist can give your teeth a professional clean and explain the effects of your diet on your oral health.
- Pregnant women
- People with gum disease
- People with a weak immune system
- Those who tend to get cavities or build up plaque
Your teeth have suffered irreparable damage? You’re tired of wearing dentures? Explore the All-on-4® treatment concept and find out how you can rediscover your confidence.
Do You Have Dentures or Implants?
Taking care of your dentures
If you have dentures, food debris and plaque will need to be removed daily to keep them looking like new. Here are a few tips on denture care:
- Remove and clean your dentures twice a day. Your dentist should show you how to do so.
- Brush your gums, tongue and the roof of your mouth with a soft toothbrush before you re-insert your dentures.
- We recommend cleaning dentures with a soft toothbrush, mild soap and water or a denture paste.
- Clean your dentures over a sink that’s half-filled with water, to prevent damage if being dropped.
- When not worn, place your dentures in a denture cleanser soaking solution, in water or soak it in white vinegar and water (1:4).
If you still can’t remove the build-up on your own, contact your dentist. They’ll be happy to polish your denture for you. If your denture shows signs of damage, don’t try to fix it and stop wearing it immediately. Call your dental clinic for an appointment!
Taking care of your All-on-4® with dental implants
All-on-4® with dental implants look, feel and function just like your natural teeth. That means that they require no different dental hygiene routine. A few things to keep in mind include:
- When brushing your teeth use low abrasive toothpaste.
- Make sure to brush under and around the bridge/s.
- Use unwaxed implant-specific floss such as x-floss.
- Visit your dentist or local Next Smile™ All-on-4® Centre every six months for a professional examination and clean.
To find out how our All-On-4® with dental implants have helped to improve the lives of thousands of patients and check out these before and afters. For permanent, new teeth that inspire your confidence, give us a call!