Not only does taking good care of your teeth make your smile look great, but there are studies showing a connection between gum disease and heart disease and kidney disease so having good oral health may actually help you live longer. In general you know your gums are healthy if they are pink and firm. If your gums are red and/or swollen or prone to bleeding when you brush, then you may have or be on your way to gum disease. The basics of maintaining good oral health of course include brushing a minimum of two times a day, flossing regularly, and keeping regular dentist appointments for cleaning. In between dentist appointments and in addition to brushing and flossing there are other ways to help you keep whiter healthier teeth and gums.
Part of the aging process involves the erosion of tooth enamel so that dentin is exposed. This layer of the teeth is a more yellow color and thus our teeth don’t remain as white as when we were younger. As we get older this makes it even more important to avoid staining teeth in the first place. One of the biggest culprits for stains is tobacco so if white teeth are important to you, avoid smoking and using tobacco products. In the foods category coffee, tea, fruit juices like cranberry and grape, red wine, blueberries, blackberries and beets are some of the most likely to stain teeth. Dentists give a rule of thumb that any food that would leave a stain on a white cotton t-shirt will also probably leave stains on teeth. Since many of these type foods have antioxidants and other nutrients for good health, you don’t have to stop eating them, just be aware which ones can stain and brush your teeth after eating them or at least rinse your mouth afterwards. There are also medications that can stain teeth including some antihistamines, antipsychotics, antibiotics, and medicine for blood pressure. Mouthwashes that have chlorhexidine or cetylpyridinium chloride, iron and too much fluoride can also stain teeth.
Natural Solutions for Whiter Healthier Teeth
For excessive stains, a dentist can do a professional cleaning and/or whitening that will help remove them. There are also a lot of home whitening kits and products that you can use between dentist visits. But if you are looking for more natural ways to whiten teeth and improve your oral health, here are a few that you might be interested in.
- Eat raw foods such as apples, pears, carrots, or celery to clean teeth. These types of foods increase saliva which help keeps teeth clean.
- Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide are two natural products that can help make teeth whiter, remove plaque, help with gum disease and inflammation, and kill off bad bacteria in the mouth. You can use a tablespoon of baking soda and about 5 drops of hydrogen peroxide to make a paste for brushing.
- Toothbrushes wear out and a worn out toothbrush doesn’t do as good a job for you. Toothbrushes should be replaced about every 3 months or before and after you have an illness so that you don’t spread germs.
- Eating cheese that has casein and whey protein helps protect the enamel of teeth and has calcium to keep teeth strong and healthy. Be sure to also eat foods with vitamin D so your body can absorb the calcium. Vitamin D food sources include milk, egg yolks and fish.
- Avoid dry mouth as it can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Dry mouth is most commonly caused by certain medications that your doctor may be able to help find an alternative for or if not, then drink more fluids, chew gums without sugar or check with your dentist about products that relieve dry mouth.
- Find a way to cope with stress as it releases cortisol that is not only bad for your physical health in general, but also is bad for your gums. When people are extra stressed, studies show they also tend to let their oral health routines slide with less brushing and flossing.
- Oral probiotics can help keep plaque from forming, reduce inflammation and disease of the gums, reduce colonies of bad bacteria in the mouth, give you cleaner breath and whiter teeth. We usually think of probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus as replenishing the friendly bacteria in the gut for good digestive health, but there are more than 600 types of bacteria that live in the mouth and the mouth also needs a good balance of friendly bacteria to combat the unfriendly strains. Oral probiotics can come in powders, capsules, lozenges, or fermented foods such as yogurt, cheese, miso, and tempeh. This probiotic supplement has a mixture of 8 key good bacteria that comes in a capsule which you can just pull apart, pour out the powder inside, mix with some water and use to rinse or gargle in the mouth before swallowing it.
Don’t let yellow, stained teeth ruin your smile. Set a goal to beef up your oral hygiene program and incorporate some of these tips for healthy teeth and gums and teeth whitening, then stick to it and you’ll see results that will not only affect your smile, but your overall health.
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