Your saliva does more than just keep your mouth moist. It is your mouth’s natural defense against tooth decay, sweeping away the bacteria and acids that harm teeth. The calcium and phosphate in saliva also help to strengthen tooth enamel. To counteract dry mouth, try chewing sugar-free gum after a meal to boost saliva flow. You’ll also get a burst of minty fresh breath until you can brush.
Medical Conditions & Prescriptions
Diabetes inhibits your body’s natural immune system, making you more at risk for infection, including gum disease which can lead to tooth decay. Proper dental hygiene, including brushing and flossing, is more important than ever for women with this condition. Some prescription medications can cause dry mouth, lowering your saliva and your body’s natural defense against tooth decay. Check with your doctor if this is a concern.
Everyone knows Red Wine will stain teeth. Actually, all alcoholic drinks are bad for your teeth because they cause dry mouth and inhibit the flow of beneficial saliva. The acidic properties of wine, fruit juices, tomato products and even diet soda can be really harsh on tooth enamel. Water or milk is your best choice to neutralize acid. While milk does contain sugar, its lactose is the least damaging to teeth and its acid-fighting and strengthening benefits outweigh the negative.
Carbohydrate-heavy foods like bread, pasta, crackers and chips convert to sugar. This sugar feeds the plaque-building bacteria in your mouth as it converts to acid. Surprisingly, eating a piece of cheese at the end of a meal actually protects teeth by stimulating saliva and by balancing the mouth’s pH levels. Some say cheese and dairy products can even help remineralize teeth.
Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Munching ice can chip or crack teeth and lead to hot or cold sensitivity as the soft tissue inside the tooth gets irritated. And cough drops and mints are no better. They’re actually worse because their sugar turns to acid when it meets oral bacteria, leading to tooth decay. Once again, a safer choice is sugarless gum which can satisfy not only the urge to chew, but can also moisten sore throats.
Brushing Immediately after a Meal
It seems illogical that brushing right after a meal can harm teeth, but it’s true. Acid converted from food and drink can be very abrasive to your teeth. Brushing too soon, before your saliva has had a chance to neutralize the acid, can harm enamel by etching this abrasive acid on teeth. Wait 30 minutes before brushing. In the meantime, drink plenty of water or maybe even try an antibacterial mouthwash to halt the plaque’s production of acid. Or pop that piece of gum and chew for 20.
Well, it may not necessarily be bad, but it’s definitely not as good for your teeth as good, old-fashioned tap water. Tap water is fortified with cavity-fighting Fluoride. Fluoride mixes with your saliva to protect teeth against plaque, sugars, acid and decay. So if you’re only drinking bottled, you’re missing out on that extra prevention.