Drinking Enough Water
Water not only keeps us hydrated but plays an essential role in neutralising the acids which are produced by the bacteria in our mouth. These are the acids which cause tooth decay and regular sipping of water can assist in maintaining an ideal environment in the mouth. People who experience a dry mouth or those who are dehydrated are at an increased risk of decay which will tarnish a beautiful smile.
If food sits on your teeth for a prolonged period of time it first turns into a gooey mass called plaque which bacteria love to live amongst. After some time this turns into a hard substance called tartar. Both plaque and tartar discolour teeth. The simplest way of keeping your teeth bright and healthy is to have excellent home care involving twice daily effective brushing and once daily flossing. This ensures that you are removing as much of the food from your teeth as possible which not only results in healthy gums and lower risk of decay, but also a brighter smile! Tartar will always build up after some time, and for some of us this happens much quicker than others hence why a thorough hygiene appointment (cleaning) at your dentist is often needed. A commonly overlooked issue is periodontitis, commonly referred to as ‘gum disease’. Plaque and tarter result in inflammation of the gums and over many years we see the bone which supports the teeth disappears. This leads to tooth loss, risk of gum abscess, bad breathe and poor appearance.
Saliva has many actions, it aids in digestion by breaking down foods, it lubricates and moisturises the mouth, helps to clear debris from the teeth and combat acids which bacteria in our mouth produce. People with a dry mouth have a huge increase in decay. To counter dry mouth ensure you are well hydrated, speak to your GP about the cause of your dry mouth (in many instances it is due to multiple medications), using saliva substitutes such as Biotene dry mouth rinse, sip on water during the day and consider chewing gum.
Chewing gum actually stimulates your salivary glands to produce saliva, just make sure that it is sugar-free gum!
Watch Out For Food, Beverages & Tobacco That Stain
Many foods and drinks naturally stain your teeth more than others. The big three beverages would be tea, coffee and red wine (all the good things in life!) Soy sauces and pigmented foods also cause staining. In my experience those who have less of these things have brighter teeth. Now I am not telling you that you can never have these things (I shudder when I think of a life without coffee) but try and either rinse your mouth out with water after, or brush your teeth to remove the stains before they travel inside the enamel of the teeth. You may have also of heard of using a straw with such beverages to bypass the teeth, and I know this works for some of my patients. Smoking is a major cause of stains because tobacco deposits onto the teeth and often leaves a thick dark layer which promotes growth of plaque and tartar.
Avoid Sticky Carbohydrates!
Refined carbohydrates are consumed by the natural bacteria which live in our mouth and produce acids. These acids eat away the teeth and result in decay. Sticky carbohydrates in particular such as toffee, breads and lollies can be very difficult to remove from the deep grooves of the teeth.
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Dr Aodhan Docherty
BMed Sci BDent (Hons)(Sydney)
Dr Aodhan Docherty is a dentist who practices at About Smiles Dental Centres in Chatswood and Zetland. Having graduated from The University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Medical Science and Graduate Degree in Dentistry with Honours, Dr Docherty enjoys a mixture of both general family dentistry and also the challenges associated with cosmetic transformations. He places utmost importance on taking the time to provide a holistic style of dentistry which does not just look at individual teeth, instead starting with the health of the person as a whole. He formulates a long term and comprehensive treatment plan and discusses the options with his patients. With a relaxed and calming chairside manner, Dr Docherty goes above and beyond to deliver pain free dentistry and treats every patient as though they were family; ethically and compassionately. Check out the About Smiles Dental Centres website at www.aboutsmiles.com.au.