Best Ways to Keep Your Teeth
Many of us are keeping our natural teeth longer, according to a survey by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, thanks to better technology and improved dental hygiene. Boost your chances of remaining denture-free by adopting these three surprising teeth-saving strategies:
1. Floss. Then brush.
Many of us are in the habit of flossing after we brush, if we do it at all. Switching the order of your routine can do wonders for your teeth, says Dr. Kam Nouri, a dentist in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and a clinical instructor at University of Southern California School of Dentistry in Los Angeles. “Floss first to remove plaque and food particles. This way, the fluoride from your paste can get between your teeth when you brush.”
Fluoride paste prevents tooth decay, studies have shown. And since decay and cavities often form between teeth, it’s important to clear the way for your paste to work. Not to mention that removing debris and plaque from between teeth also helps maintain healthy gums.
2. Know your genes.
Few people realize that genetics ranks up there with smoking and poor oral hygiene as a top risk factor for oral disease. In fact, a genetic marker known as Interlukein-1 puts more than 30 percent of people of European heritage at greater risk for serious gum disease, according to a study in the Journal of Periodontology.
Some periodontists offer a genetic test, done via a saliva sample, to check for the gene. While not recommended for everyone, the test may be useful if you have a family history of gum disease without apparent risk factors, researchers say. If it’s positive, you and your dentist will be aware of the added importance for excellent nutrition and oral hygiene habits.
3. Break away from the grind.
One in 10 Americans clench and grind their teeth at night, and many of them don’t realize it, according to the American Sleep Association. In one study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, patients with nighttime “bruxing,” the medical term for clenching and grinding, lost tooth enamel up to 10 times faster than their non-grinding counterparts. Furthermore, grinding can also leave teeth fractured or even loose -- and cause a variety of physical problems including headaches, jaw pain and sleep loss.
Bruxing is thought to be exacerbated by stress, but many people grind or clench without any apparent trigger. At your next dental visit, ask your dentist to check for signs of grinding. (They can often tell just by looking.) Dentists regularly prescribe and custom-fit small mouth appliances called night guards or bite stops. Studies show that regular use of these appliances alleviates symptoms -- and potential tooth damage -- in more than 74 percent of patients.
Victoria Clayton is a freelance health writer based in Southern California. She is the former "Growing Up Healthy" columnist for Msnbc.com and has written about dental spas and other oral health topics for The Los Angeles Times.
Available at Amazon.com:
- Stop Dry Mouth Now
- Best Ways to Keep Your Teeth
- Eat Your Way to a Healthy Smile
- Why and How to Get More Vitamin D
- Better Alternatives to Silver Fillings
- Best Ways to Soothe Sensitive Teeth
- Dry Mouth Can Be a Serious Problem
- Can Your Toothbrush Make You Sick?
- Time for Tooth Whitening? Know Your Options
- The Aging Mouth - And How to Keep it Younger
Copyright © 2010 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.