ISSUE: Winter 2011-12
DEPT: Mind & Body
STORY: Shirley Lau
Of course we know the basics: brush twice a day, floss once a day, and visit your dentist twice a year. Dental and oral care expert, Dr. Pankaj Singh, adds that we should also maintain a mouth-healthy diet, which means foods high in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and dairy products. Here are a few more things Dr. Singh recommends you incorporate into your everyday routine to keep your teeth healthy and white (and your breath fresh!).
- If you can’t brush after a meal, rinse your mouth and chew sugarless gum. There is usually some form of sugar in every meal, and the damage caused is related to the time sugar is present in the mouth. Chewing sugar-free gum helps stimulate the formation of saliva, which accelerates the neutralization of acid.
- If you must consume beverages that stain your teeth, such as coffee, tea, carbonated drinks and red wine, use a straw to limit contact with your teeth. Rinse your mouth immediately after to avoid staining and tooth decay.
- Use a whitening toothpaste once a week to remove surface stains and prevent yellowing. Use a regular toothpaste the rest of the time. And clean your tongue every time you brush, stroking in a back-to-front direction.
- If you’re trying to conceive, schedule a dental checkup before you start. Hormonal changes, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy, can make your gums swollen and puffy. Your dentist can remove any plaque you’ve built up so your gums will be less likely to act up. Also, try to brush after episodes of morning sickness to get rid of the acid in your mouth. Otherwise, it may harm tooth enamel.
- Taking any oral contraceptives may make you susceptible to the same oral health conditions that affect pregnant women. As the hormones in oral contraceptives increase the levels of progesterone, any local irritants (food, plaque, etc.) may cause gums to turn red, bleed and swell.
- For Asian American women, evolutionary changes in our phenotype have created a predisposition to narrowing of our jaws, which results in crowding of the dental arches, disruptions in tooth eruption and impacted wisdom teeth. An increased incidence of dental crowding, if left untreated, increases our risk for gum disease.