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Maintaining Dental Health: Proven Tips for Strong Teeth

Dental health is all about prevention, which is why it’s an exciting topic for us here at Digital Nomad Health. Brushing and flossing are important, but so are our diet and other oral habits, which can decrease gum recession and dental caries.

Keeping your teeth into old age is partly genetic but has much more to do with your lifestyle and habits. Let’s talk about preventing dental disease.

Here is an excellent article by the ADA about assessing the early risk of cavities and how to intervene to prevent further damage.

1. Plaque Control

Plaque that isn’t properly removed through brushing, cleaning, and flossing can develop into tartar, which can lead to gum disease and later cavities.

Regular brushing helps keep the bacterial colonies under control and balances this buildup. Unlike what marketing companies tell us, we don’t want to “kill 99.99% of bacteria” in our mouth but we need a healthy flora and a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria, as well as fungi, viruses, and even protozoa.

2. Gum Health

Recession, easy bleeding, sensitivity, and swelling are early signs of gum disease. Patient empowerment helps my patients recognize healthy vs. diseased gums.

Though dental cleaning is claimed to be the most essential part of gum health, in fact, it’s regular brushing and flossing, followed by avoiding excess alcohol, sugar, and substances that dry out the mouth or create a harsh, acidic environment.

3. Oral Hydration

Dry mouth is a problem for some throughout the day and can get quite severe at night when they sleep. Sleeping with the mouth open, not hydrating enough, and eating high-carb meals, alcohol, or salty foods all can lead to dryness of the mouth, which can damage the enamel, the gums, and the healthy oral flora.

It is helpful to take sips of water regularly and avoid common culprits such as alcohol, cigarettes, sugar, acidic foods, and medications that cause mouth dryness. Chewing gum can increase saliva secretion in those who experience dry mouth frequently.

4. Systemic Health

Diabetes and pretty much and blood sugar problems can lead to early dental disease.

Add liver disease and high blood pressure to this list due to the damage they cause to blood vessels and nerves.

5. Hormonal Changes

This is a less common problem, but some adults experience strong hormonal fluctuations later in life, which can not only lead to early gum disease but also affect the health of enamel.

If you are experiencing conditions such as menopause that are amenable to medical or lifestyle interventions, balancing out the hormones may help prevent dental disease.

6. Medication Side Effects

Many medications can cause dry mouth, and others can negatively affect the immune system, slowing its ability to fight infections.

Some individuals will have no issues at all from the list below. But whenever starting a new medication with potential dental consequences, it’s worthwhile to have a closer follow-up with your dentist.

  • Antihistamines
  • Antihypertensives
  • Antidepressants
  • Diuretics
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Bronchodilators
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Opioids

7. Enamel Health

Acidic foods, dry mouth, and close brushing after eating can erode enamel. It is always best to wait 30 minutes after a meal before brushing and using a soft bristle brush.

Dental fluoride has decreased dental cavities by 15-30%. The question is how effective it is for someone already at low risk and with good oral hygiene habits.

8. Oral Flora

Oral flora, like flora anywhere in the body, is much less about taking probiotics as one’s lifestyle overall. As dry mouth, excess alcohol, and a poor diet can cause an inhospitable environment for the right oral bacteria, antibiotics can undoubtedly cause even more significant problems.

Claims that a specific mouthwash will kill 99.99% of a particular problematic bacteria should be intuitively false because we don’t have any chemical substance that can only target the bad organisms in the body and ignore the good.

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