Sugar and Spice Advice on Dental Health

Smile!
Smile!

The past few advice columns have focused on getting your life in order and working on decreasing stress. Today I am going to switch up a little and talk about teeth. (That’s like from soup to nuts, right?) So what’s the big deal about teeth? You get one set in your lifetime. Improper or insufficient care of them not only causes cavities, loss of damaged teeth, expensive dental bills, (Have you ever noticed that dental insurance doesn’t cover a whole lot?) as well as bad breath, gum disease, and even heart problems? It is true.

You have discovered that people have started standing farther away from you during conversations. You spouse has declining interest in kissing you. What’s the matter? Bad breath may very well be the culprit. Some people call it “dragon breath.” I have never been close enough to a dragon to find out, so I call it “Boca Negra,” Spanish for black mouth. Now that paints a picture doesn’t it?

Bad breath, aka Boca Negra, can come from a number of things: a decrease in saliva, strong foods, and health conditions. When you are asleep your mouth does not produce much saliva and that is why many of folks wake up with “morning breath.”  Love garlic and onions, chiles? Expect to have potent breath afterwards. Some people avoid eating the above items on a date to prevent the date from fainting if he or she gets too close. Also, consider health conditions that cause bad breath, gingivitis, sinus infections, acid reflux, and diabetes.

Now what’s a person to do about bad breath? Here are some simple tips.
1) Brush your teeth, tongue, gums, and roof of your mouth twice a day. Choose the right toothbrush. Use soft-bristled brushes and don’t scrub too hard. Aim your brush toward the gum line and use short, back and forth strokes. Give equal time to each tooth. And don’t forget those hard to reach molars. Go above and beyond by brushing your teeth after each meal. The longer food gunk sits on your teeth, the more likely it is to cause plaque. Use a fluoride toothpaste as fluoride is a tooth decay fighter. Finally, replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months.
2) Floss at least once a day to remove food particles from between your teeth. I have to admit, flossing is a giant pain in the derriere. (That’s French for your behind.) I need to get better at this myself. Something stuck in my teeth that I can feel and see, out comes the floss. I can’t say I am really faithful in flossing the stuff I don’t feel or see in the mirror. Start your children on a good habit. Help them floss while they are young and then let them take over when they are able to do it on their own. A good habit started early can continue on through life.
3) Gargle with water or medicated mouthwash.
4) Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
5) Visit your dentist regularly, every 6 months. This is really sound advice. Something small can be caught and treated early before it becomes a gnarly root canal or tooth extraction. Missing teeth tend to affect your smile.
6) Chew on sugar-free gum or use dissolving breath strips. I use the latter. I am not a fan of gum because too many people chaw on it like they have a tennis ball in their mouths. Or they crack their gum. Yikes!
7) Eat at regular intervals. Skipping meals can cause a decrease in saliva, leading to bad breath.

After, all this I really want to go brush and floss my teeth! SMILE!

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