While many people connect white, shiny teeth with dental health, there are layers beneath that that may be even more important. Proper dental hygiene can prevent tooth decay and gum disease which prevents the discomfort or embarrassment of losing teeth or the cost of a set of dentures. Dentures are extremely common, with one in four senior Americans having lost all their teeth. Luckily, improving oral hygiene trends have begun to shrink that number.

Foremost among the things you can do to keep your teeth strong is visit your dentist regularly. They can help you keep your chompers in tip-top shape. To help cover the expenses, you may want to find a Medicare Advantage or a stand-alone dental plan. Besides visiting the dentist, there are a few easy things you can do at home to prevent damage to your teeth!

Try a Tooth-Friendly Diet

As we’ve learned is the case with many things, your diet is influential in the overall health of your teeth. There are foods you should avoid and foods you should eat more. This makes a tooth-friendly diet one of the most important changes you can make. For one, cutting sugary or acidic foods and drinks from your diet can help protect your teeth. Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars, creating an acid. Acids erode the enamel on your teeth, weakening them over time. Furthermore, foods and drinks that are naturally acidic, like vinegars, can also weaken the enamel.

Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars, creating an acid that erodes the enamel on your teeth.

You can also eat foods that strengthen your teeth. Primarily, dairy products and foods rich in calcium are good for bones and teeth. The calcium counteracts the acids attacking the enamel and may even aid tooth repair. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, certain cheeses may be even more influential in protecting teeth, stimulating saliva to clear the mouth of acids. Foods rich in Vitamin D also show promising results in tooth decay prevention.

Don’t Overbrush

Brushing your teeth is great for maintaining a healthy smile. But, it’s possible to take this too far. Yes, overbrushing is a real thing, and it’s killing your smile. Brushing too hard or for too long can erode your enamel and even damage your gums. If you do enough damage to your teeth and gums, you may even require expensive surgery to repair the damage!

Brushing too hard or for too long can erode your enamel and even damage your gums.

All it takes is two minutes of brushing, with a light touch, twice a day for proper dental hygiene. You should also use American Dental Association-approved fluoride toothpastes. To brush your teeth right, use a light touch, a 45-degree angle, and thoroughly clean your teeth.

Avoid Dry Mouth and Grinding

Besides food and brushing, there are two other ways you can keep your teeth strong. The first is a bit surprising. Avoiding a dry mouth can prevent tooth decay. Salivation and drinking water helps wash away acid, bacteria, and food particles in your mouth. Drinking water to hydrate, instead of a sugary drink, keeps your mouth sugar-free. If there’s fluoride in the water, it can even strengthen your teeth.

Salivation and drinking water helps wash away acid, bacteria, and food particles in your mouth.

The second way you can prevent damage to your teeth is a little less surprising. Cutting back on grinding your teeth seems a bit obvious, with teeth grinding being surprisingly common. Also called bruxism, gnashing or grinding your teeth wears down the enamel over time. This can occur during the day or at night and isn’t always a conscious action. It can lead to sore, weak, or even fractured or chipped teeth. If you or your dentist notice that you have a tooth-grinding issue, you’ll have a few options, though wearing a custom-fit tooth guard is the most common solution.

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Weakened, sensitive teeth are painful and dentures can be expensive and uncomfortable. Luckily, there are ways you can protect your teeth. With our understanding of dental health constantly evolving, your chances of keeping your teeth strong at any age will continue to grow. Soon, denture pains may be a thing of the past.

Further Reading

Harvard Health Publishing — The aging mouth – and how to keep it younger