Teeth and diet
Minimising the risk of decay is vital to keeping a healthy set of teeth. Obviously there’s the threat posed by consuming sugary snacks. But it’s also important to remember that when we eat the acid levels in the mouth are affected for up to an hour afterwards. So repeated snacking means having more instances during the day when this happens. The solution? Eat fewer sugary snacks, and only have them at mealtimes or cut them out completely.
Your teeth need nutrients like the rest of your body does – they are alive like the rest of you. So ensure that you get the right amount of calcium in your diet: low fat dairy foods are generally a good source. Vitamin D has been linked to lower rates of tooth decay, so seek out some vitamin D rich foods and include them in your diet – oily fish such as sardines and mackerel are one example.
Teeth and lifestyle
For healthy teeth and gums, smoking is a no-no. And never consume more alcohol than the government recommendations – as this can pose oral health risks too. Tobacco and alcohol are both risk factors for oral cancer.
We’re often encouraged to get out there and be physically active – and that is great advice. Some sports do carry the risk of accidents happening, though – such as football, hockey and so on. Speak to your dentist about how best to protect your teeth. A mouth guard that has been properly prepared to fit your mouth can help here, so find out from your dentist about what type would suit best. They are available in different forms such as ‘boil and bite’ where you shape them to fit, as well as individually designed ones that are ‘custom fit’.
Teeth and sleep
For many of us the last time we think about our tooth health is at night after brushing, when our head hits the pillow and our mouths feel minty and fresh. But spare a thought for people who suffer from teeth grinding – or bruxism as it’s known in medical literature. According to NHS Choices, for the majority (80%) of people who are affected by teeth grinding it’s a subconscious thing that happens during sleep.
Bruxism during the sufferer’s sleep in most cases is believed to be stress-related. There are various ways in which the condition can be treated including the use of mouth guards, and therapies such as hypnosis.
Teeth and ageing
As we get older it’s simply a fact of life that our bodies go through changes. But good dental and oral health habits can help to ensure that time doesn’t play too heavily on your teeth. All the usual health advice such as regular check ups, brushing and so on all apply – and if over time the teeth become darker, there should be appropriate treatments to counteract the effect. No matter what age you are though, it's always important to get restorative treatment when required- having money put aside or taking out a dental insurance policy are ways of helping to manage the cost.
Jenn J. writes on wellbeing, nutrition and dental health topics for a number of health sites and blogs.