Caring for teeth

There's more to great teeth than brushing and flossing.

By Donna Fleming

We all know we should brush and floss twice a day to look after our teeth. But there are plenty of other things you can do to improve dental health, some of them quite surprising...

All washed out

While brushing your teeth is crucial for good dental health, using mouthwash as well is much more efficient. New research shows swilling mouthwash to kill bacteria, in combination with brushing to remove food and plaque, can significantly reduce the gum disease gingivitis. That’s because brushing focuses on teeth, which make up about 25% of the mouth, while mouthwash reaches nearly 100% of the mouth’s surfaces.

Detergent foods

Some foods clean your teeth as you eat. The champion of these is the apple, but other edibles good for your gnashers include raw carrots and celery.

Get fruity

Fans of apple cider vinegar claim it is good for everything, from improving digestion to aiding weight loss. It’s also good for dental health, and can help remove teeth stains, as well as killing bacteria that builds up on gums and other areas of
your mouth. Gargle in the morning, then brush as usual.

Say cheese

Eating cheese can help protect your teeth against cavities, as it makes the mouth more alkaline and neutralises acid that causes plaque. It can also help create a protective film around teeth. Researchers at the Academy of General Dentistry in the US found the higher the pH level in our mouths (i.e. the more alkaline it is), the more teeth are protected against dental erosion. In the study, cheese produced higher pH levels than milk or sugar-free yoghurt.

Solar power

The sun provides us with vitamin D, and while it has long been known that this vitamin is important for bone health, research is only just starting to reveal how it plays a part in reducing tooth decay. Vitamin D boosts the minerals in your teeth and bones, while a review of studies published in the journal Nutrition Reviews showed that getting adequate vitamin D can reduce cases of tooth decay by around 50%. The studies looked at the dental health of children aged between two and 16, and found that those who were deficient in vitamin D were more likely to have problems with their teeth coming through, and then have more cavities.Of course, the problem with getting vitamin D from the sun is making sure you don’t put yourself, or your family, at risk of skin cancer. It is crucial to avoid overexposing yourself and getting burned.

Did you know?

drinking large quantities of soft drinks can cause erosion to teeth as serious as that caused by the use of P or crack cocaine.

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