*KEEP YOU SMILE BRIGHT Top 10 Tips*
*A bright smile can make you look younger and be a good indicator of overall wellbeing. Subconsciously, we associate a dull smile with age — enamel wears over time, darkening our teeth. A bright smile gives the impression of good health, youth and general vitality. HealthFirst, courtesy of Dr Jaco Smith and his team at The Dental Studio in Jumeirah, offers some tips beyond mere brushing and flossing that should help you keep that radiant beam.*
*Limit carbohydrates to mealtimes*
Potato crisps or wheat rolls can be just as damaging to your teeth and gums as sugary sweet treats. Carbohydrates break down into simple sugars, which are ultimately converted by bacteria in the mouth into plaque — a sticky residue that is the primary trigger of gum disease and cavities. Carbohydrate-based food, such as bread and crackers, tend to have a chewy, adhesive texture, making it easier for these types of food to get caught between teeth, or under the gum line, where bacteria can accumulate, says Joanne Flower, Oral Hygienist and Orthodontic Therapist at The Dental Studio.
*Smile tip:* Have carbohydrates at mealtimes rather than as a snack. When you eat a larger amount of food, you produce more saliva, which helps to wash away food particles.
*Don’t drink and brush*
Don’t brush your teeth right after you drink a soda or any other acidic beverage is Joanne’s advice. It is known that the acid in the drink combined with the abrasive action of brushing can erode your teeth’s enamel.
*Smile tip:* Sip water or chew gum to activate acid-neutralising saliva after drinking soda and then brush your teeth.
The antioxidants in tea are good for your gums. Black and green teas contain polyphenols; antioxidant plant compounds that prevent plaque from adhering to your teeth. These can help to reduce your chances of developing cavities and gum disease. Tea also has the potential for reducing bad breath because it inhibits the growth of the bacteria that causes the odour. Many teas also contain fluoride, which helps protect tooth enamel from decay.
*Increase your vitamin C intake*
Vitamin C is the cement that holds all cells together, says Joanne. Vitamin C is just as important for the health of your gum tissue as it is for the health of your skin.
*Smile tip:* Add a glass of fresh orange juice to your daily breakfast menu. This will help ensure you meet your recommended daily amount of vitamin C.
*Drink through a straw*
Most sodas, sports drinks and juices contain acids, such as citric and phosphoric acid. These compounds can erode dental enamel — even if they’re diet or sugar-free versions. Sipping acidic drinks through a straw angled towards the back of your mouth limits the fluid’s contact with your teeth and helps preserve the enamel.
*Boost your calcium consumption*
Minerals are vital for strong bones and healthy teeth. People whose intake of calcium is at least 800mg per day are less likely to develop severe gum disease, says Dr Ajay Juneja, Prosthodontist at The Dental Studio. The reason: About 99 per cent of the calcium in your body is in your bones and teeth. Dietary calcium, available in foods like cheese, milk, and yoghurt, strengthens the alveolar bone in the jaw, which helps to hold your teeth in place.
*Smile tip: *The recommended amount of calcium is 1,000mg per day for women younger than 51 and 1,200mg for those who are older. A calcium supplement could do the trick, but you should aim to get as much as you can from your diet. An eight-ounce glass of milk, a six-ounce tub of yoghurt, or a 1.5- to two-ounce serving of cheese each contain approximately 300mg of calcium.
Protect your smile when you swim It may sound surprising, but dental researchers have found that excessively chlorinated pool water can erode and stain tooth enamel. A greater amount of chlorine in a pool may equal more protection against bacteria, but overdoing it lowers the pool’s pH level and makes it dangerously acidic.
*Smile tip:* Brush your teeth and use a fluoride rinse immediately after spending more than an hour in the pool.
*Have an apple a day*
An apple a day, the saying goes, keeps the doctor away, but it should also mention that it can keep the dentist away too. Crunchy foods, such as apples, celery, and carrots, act as little toothbrushes, helping to scrub away stubborn stains over time. Dr Jaco believes that the mildly acidic nature and astringent quality of apples, combined with their rough, fibre-rich flesh, makes them the ideal food for cleansing and brightening teeth.
*Smile tip:* If you eat an apple a day as a between-meal snack, make sure you drink a glass of water to rinse away the sugar, acid, and any plaque it may have removed from your enamel.
*Chew on this*
Chewing gum regularly can help safeguard your smile. It also increases saliva in your mouth, which rids your teeth of the bacteria that can cause cavities.
*Smile tip:* Sugar-free gum with xylitol will do the trick (just make sure to dispose of it an environmentally friendly manner).
*Consider whole grains*
Research suggests that whole grains can act as dental insurance and Dr Jaco confirms this. Whole grains aid in keeping your heart healthy and preventing diabetes, but also keep teeth healthier, longer. A diet rich in whole grains stabilises blood sugar levels, which has been shown to reduce periodontitis in diabetics. Periodontitis is a serious disease resulting from a bacterial infection that destroys the attachment fibres and supporting bones that holds the teeth in place. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss.
*Smile tip:* Swap white rice and regular pasta for brown and whole-wheat versions. Check labels to make sure brown rice or whole grains are listed as the first ingredient.