The dentist-patient relationship is different from the doctor-patient relationship and that is unfortunate. Few people will turn to their dentist when looking for advice and recommendations for their health when poor oral health is linked to many health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and heart attack.
What typically happens in a person will arrive for their dentist appointment, nervously answer a few questions, get the work done, and go home. This leaves little time for the dentist to impart any wisdom.
So, here’s a little dentist wisdom that your dentist probably won’t tell you.
Sugar isn’t the Only Bad Guy in Your Kitchen
Your dentist has probably told you to lay off the sugar – and that’s sound advice. There are some other things though that he or she may not have mentioned. While sugar is one category of cavity-causing foods, starchy foods, and acidic foods can also be just as damaging.
And some healthy foods can cause damage to your teeth as well.
Starchy foods like pasta, potatoes, rice, and chips can cause the acid levels of bacteria in your mouth to rise. An acidic oral environment can cause tooth decay because it erodes tooth enamel. Acidic foods like lemons, limes, and grapefruit can cause the same problem.
Other foods high in acid that you may not even realize could be a problem include:
- Some teas
- Processed meats
- White bread
- Red meat
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a form of sugar that is not required to be listed as sugar. This allows it to find its way into many, many foods, even products labeled sugar-free or diet. Read your labels!
Poor oral care can contribute to the damage. Brushing and flossing after each meal can help to ward off the damage that these foods can cause. Starch can be particularly stubborn and get stuck between your teeth so flossing is a must. You can also balance your diet with alkaline foods like cabbage (not kimchi or sauerkraut), peppers, broccoli, spinach, and other leafy greens. They tend to decrease your risk for tooth decay.
Carbonated Drinks Could Wreak Havoc on Your Chompers
Your dentist has probably told you to avoid sodas because they are so high in sugar, but another culprit is lurking in all that bubbly goodness. Carbonation can also damage your teeth.
Any carbonated drink, even seltzer water, is highly acidic. This can cause dental erosion which leads to decay.
Your best course of action is to consume carbonated drinks of any kind (even energy drinks) in moderation. Avoid the carbonation as much as you can and save the bubbly stuff for special occasions.
Putting in Some Extra Time Brushing Could Have Benefits for You
Sometimes the simpler things are the hardest to convey. If you are brushing for less than three to five minutes, you aren’t brushing long enough. Some dentists may believe that this is common knowledge while others may have mentioned it at one time and don’t feel a need to say it again.
But it does need to be said again – and again and again.
The point of brushing your teeth is to reduce the amount of plaque on your teeth – as much as possible anyway. Scientific evidence has found a potential link between longer brushing time (as much as four minutes) and less plaque on teeth.
Brushing longer also allows you to get areas that may not be so easy to reach so your whole mouth is clean and you can significantly reduce plaque. The result is healthier teeth and gums.
You Might Want to Rethink the Tongue Piercing
Your dentist may not tell you that the majority of tongue piercings cause chipped teeth and fewer will tell you that these piercings cause infections. A foreign object that is made of metal or some other hard substance and placed in your mouth is a chipped tooth waiting to happen.
What’s more, the human mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria due to its constantly moist environment. When you put a hole in your tongue – where a hole does not occur naturally – it allows for trapped food particles and bacteria to cause infection.
Gums That Bleed Despite Regular Flossing Could be Indicative of Diabetes
Bleeding gums are so common that when a dentist encounters it – and it isn’t severe – they typically won’t even mention it other than to recommend that you improve your flossing skills. But if you floss regularly and are still dealing with bleeding gums, Let your dentist know.
You might also want to schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor. Gums that bleed frequently, especially when you floss regularly, could be a sign that you have diabetes or are prediabetic.
Diabetes causes high levels of glucose in your blood. This means that your bodily fluids, including your saliva has more sugar than normal. Bacteria feed on this sugar and plaque flourished in it. Plaque is an irritant to gums that can lead to a host of issues like tooth loss, tooth decay, and gum disease. It’s the gum disease that causes the bleeding, swelling, and redness.
High blood sugar can also exacerbate gum disease at a much faster rate. In turn, research shows that gum disease may worsen high blood sugar.
Aside from good oral care, the best course of action is to keep good control over your blood sugar and manage your diabetes. Work with your dentist to address your gum disease and work with your doctor to address your diabetes.
At Liberty Family Dentistry we want to give you the best dental experience possible so you can have the best oral health possible. Call today to schedule an appointment and let us be part of your healthcare team, your partner in healthier teeth and gums, and a healthier smile.