Serving patients of Erwin, Jonesborough, and Greeneville TN
There are few who would argue that one of the most attractive things a person can have is a great smile with teeth that are healthy, white and straight. Yet having such a smile takes some work: it might require orthodontia to correct any teeth that are not in a healthy alignment, and some effort might be needed to make sure that white, strong teeth do not lose their luster. There are many things that can dull or endanger a smile.
What sorts of things can people avoid to preserve their smile, and what sorts of things should they do to actively maintain it?
Strong, attractive teeth can eventually become unappealing if they are decayed, missing, or yellowed. Interestingly, one of the main causes of all three conditions is roughly the same. Naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth secrete acid, which wears away the hard, smooth outer surface of teeth called enamel. This process is called “demineralization,” and it can cause pits and holes in the enamel itself. These pits and holes are called cavities. What is more, the acid etches a rough surface on the enamel which can allow the bacteria to stick to the teeth and form a film called plaque. This is not only unsightly in and of itself, but it allows the acid to be emitted directly onto the teeth. Additionally, the acid irritates gums and over enough time will cause them to recede. Finally, the plaque can eventually build up and even go beneath the gum line, which can erode the root and cause the tooth the fall out.
Furthermore, the whiteness of teeth comes from enamel, since the tissue underneath, dentin, is actually more of a yellow color. Acid can not only wear holes in teeth, but it also can cause the enamel to thin, allowing dentin to become more visible (and thus, the teeth to become yellow).
Regular brushing and flossing sweeps away plaque and removes it from the teeth. This temporarily eliminates acid production, which will leave the teeth free from danger of decay, greatly lessening the threat of yellowing.
Changes in diet: cutting sugars and acidic foods and drinks
The bacteria in the mouth is nourished by saccharides in certain foods and drinks. These saccharides are commonly referred to by chemists as “sugars,” and are not only in sugar but in fruits, bread and starches, and milk-products. Therefore, a diet high in all these things will increase mouth acid while reducing consumption will help lower it.
The acids produced in bacteria can also be aided by foods and beverages which themselves have high concentrations of acid.
- Red wine
- Tomato sauces
- Dark, cola-style soft drinks
- Soy sauces and vinegars
This does not mean one should refrain from these foods entirely, but moderating them will go far to keep the smile healthy and bright. Also, if these foods and drinks are consumed, rinsing the mouth afterwards with either mouthwash, or even just water, can neutralize the acid.
The body naturally fights off the demineralization of teeth through various ions in saliva, which causes the enamel to rebuild itself (“remineralization”). Water helps the salivary glands, which in turn puts forth the remineralizing ions. Water can also neutralize acids, which is why it is always good to rinse after eating anything acidic. Finally, tap water is fluoridated, which means it contains a chemical that helps ions found in saliva to rebuild enamel. Drinking water is an easy way to maintain the smile.
Some gum has sugar, which means it can damage the teeth and smile. However, sugar-free gum can actually be quite helpful. This is because it stimulates saliva production, which helps with remineralization. Better still is if the free gum contains xylitol. Xylitol is a chemical compound which behaves like sugar, and therefore it will be ingested by bacteria. However, the bacteria cannot metabolize it, which not only means that it will not render the xylitol into acid, but it also cannot pass through the bacteria and remains within it, causing it to die.
Among many other reasons to consider quitting tobacco, one is its potential consequences to oral health. Tobacco restricts blood flow to the gums, which can cause them to recede. Tobacco also stains the teeth. This is because of nicotine, a substance that turns yellow in the presence of oxygen and can easily seep into the pores of enamel. All tobacco products contain nicotine and tar, a naturally dark and sticky substance that also gets into the pores of enamel. Discontinuing tobacco use will greatly help preserve the smile.
Regular dental checkups are critical to maintaining a gorgeous smile. Ready to assist in that is the team at Tusculum Dental Care. Based in Greeneville, Tennessee, Tusculum Dental Care has proudly served the dental needs of East Tennessee for more than 25 years. To make an appointment, use the form on the website or call (423) 639-7575.