Friday, January 21 2022 - 2:45 AM
family brushing teeth
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Remembering Teeth

We never think of our mouth as a dark and wet place that harbors bacteria, but it does. We can have millions of bacteria tearing away at our teeth and gums. For example, one type of bacteria, called anaerobic bacteria or bacteria that do not need oxygen, produces acid that eats away the enamel of our teeth. Another type makes a sticky substance, and if it remains on the teeth, it becomes hard. This hardened substance is called plaque, and if it remains near the gums, it can cause gum disease.

Brushing and Flossing

Can we do anything to help get rid of the bacteria? Of course! We are familiar with the importance of brushing our teeth. It is recommended that we brush twice a day but learning how to brush them is important too. We should brush them for two minutes. Less time brushing may mean that we didn’t remove all of the plaque. And don’t forget that one of the crucial times to brush is just before going to bed. Saliva production decreases when we sleep and helps protect our teeth. We want to brush and make sure no plaque or acid is damaging our teeth.

Flossing is another great habit of removing the plaque between places the brush cannot reach. Adding this to your daily routine can help keep both gums and teeth healthy. If flossing does not work too well, try one of the small brushes that can clean between teeth. Getting the food from in between them can help us keep our mouths healthy.

Rinsing and Healthy Foods

Rinsing with mouthwash is a great way to help get rid of the bacteria and reduce the plaque. Some people may have a higher incidence of plaque, and swishing these rinses around the teeth and gums can help reduce plaque. Over-the-counter mouthwashes can help, but sometimes the dentist might prescribe a high potency mouth rinse to help prevent tooth decay.

Research has shown that those who use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwashes have a lower incidence of cavities. By keeping these products on hand can also help maintain the health of teeth and gums.

One other way to take great care of your gums and teeth is to avoid snacking, and we should consume healthy foods such as carrot sticks or an apple. Processed snack foods that stick to your teeth and sugary drinks can increase the bacteria count and create an abundance of acid within 20 minutes of eating. So, if snacking is important, plan to eat wholesome foods such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts.

And one more thing, don’t forget to visit the dentist regularly to help keep your teeth healthy. If you would like more information, visit the American Dental Association online.

When I was a youngster, I remember being told, “Teeth: if you ignore them, they will go away.” Remember to brush, rinse and floss them regularly to keep teeth with you always!

If you liked this, you might also like Of Teeth and Time | Gum Disease and Your Heart

Pamela Williams writes from Southern California.

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About Pamela A. Williams, MPH, RD

Pamela A. Williams, MPH, RD

is a dietitian, photographer, and writer in Southern California.

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