Somebody inform Captain Jack Sparrow about these!
Don’t be like Captain Jack Sparrow (the character played by Johnny Depp from Pirates of the Caribbean). Have you seen his teeth? There weren’t any pearly whites there. Don’t bother checking out his gums either, they (his gums) weren’t shown. That’s why. Lucky for you and me, we live in a different time and space (he’s a fictional character, you and I aren’t). Here are five simple tips which can help you keep your teeth pearly white and your gums healthy.
- 1. It’s okay to chew gum. That’s right. There’s nothing wrong with chewing gum. You just have to make sure that it’s sweetened with xylitol and not with artificial sweeteners and sucrose (table sugar). Also, read further down the label to see if there are any other added sugars in it. Seeing the word xylitol isn’t enough, confirm that it’s the only sweetener present in the gum. Xylitol is a naturally occurring alcohol sugar present in plants. It has a dual purpose, it prevents a dry mouth and tooth decay. Sucrose (the sweet sugar we’re all familiar with) stimulates the bacteria in your mouth to generate lactic acid which destroys your teeth. In addition, unlike sugar, xylitol doesn’t spike your blood glucose or insulin like table sugar does. ( Also see our article on Natural Sweeteners ) .
- 2. Rinse your mouth after chowing down acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons and other citrus fruits. This reduces damage to your tooth enamel. The enamel is the white part of your tooth. Acidic foods can cause damage by destroying the enamel and exposing a deeper and softer part of your tooth called the dentin. Exposed dentin attracts tooth-decay-causing bacteria like meat attract flies. Rinsing your mouth and munchers (teeth) helps to wash the areas between the teeth, flushing the acids out. Do not brush your teeth after acidic foods as this does more harm than good, best to rinse your mouth and wait an hour before brushing.
- 3. Have you even bothered to look at the ingredients of your toothpaste? Conventional toothpaste can be harmful and may even be toxic if swallowed. I hope you don’t swallow your toothpaste like you did as a child. Conventional toothpaste (and even some natural toothpaste wannabes) have a lot of chemicals in them which don’t belong in your mouth. As an alternative, use genuine (know them by reading the label and list of ingredients) natural toothpaste without nasty chemicals. To cut a long story short, stay away from any toothpaste if you see one or all of these terms in the list of ingredients: propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulphate, sodium laureth sulphate, triclosan, artificial sweeteners, sugar, fluoride, artificial colours and flavours. Click here to read more about the fluoride debate.
- 4. Break it to me, right here, right now. How hard do you brush your teeth? There are many people who brush their teeth as if they’re brushing the floor of their toilets. This shouldn’t be the case. Be an artist (painter) and brush like one. It should be light enough that its like you’re painting your teeth with your toothbrush. Furthermore, take a good look at the bristles of your toothbrush. If they’re already worn out, don’t hesitate to change them and always buy a toothbrush with soft bristles, remember you’re a painter not a floor scrubber.
- 5. Try not to be lazy (I said try), and spend some time with your teeth. Floss them every single day. Flossing reaches areas where your toothbrush can’t. It was conceived because of hard to reach places (between two adjacent teeth and that space from the base of a tooth to the gum line). Naughty and nasty bits of food get stuck in these places. When they get stuck (and you neglect to floss), the harbinger of tooth death (alright, decay if you wish), which is plaque, builds up. If you prefer, you can also try interdental brushes, especially if you have large gaps between your teeth. Just a last reminder dear reader, don’t leave everything to your dentist, okay? They are your teeth and gums, so you should be the one maintaining their health.
It only takes one month to form a habit, good or bad. You choose which it will be. The good news is that by following these simple tips you will have a fresher breath and cleaner feeling mouth, not to mention a healthier mouth!