Imagine you are out at a restaurant enjoying a really good meal and all of a sudden you hear and feel a loud “CRUNCH!”
Yup, you probably just broke a tooth. This broken tooth may or may not have an immediate pain that comes with it.
Well, now what? Guess you have to go see the dentist. But what happens if the dental office is closed on the weekend?
Well, now you have to go to the emergency room or have to wait for the dental offices to open on Monday.
Life happens and teeth break, but there are many ways to help prevent that from happening.
3 Ways to Keep Your Teeth Healthy and Strong
Today I will explain three ways to keep your tooth enamel strong and maintain healthy teeth.
Tips from a dentist on how to strengthen teeth
I’m a dentist so it is only obvious that the first thing I would recommend for strong teeth is to, well, see your dentist.
1. Prevent tooth decay with routine dental exams
Having a routine dental exam and cleanings is extremely important. Why? If you have periodontal disease, your teeth can become loose because of the bone loss and gum recession caused by periodontal disease.
Imagine a house being build on a muddy foundation that is not stable. A little huff and puff and the whole house comes crashing down.
Same goes for your teeth. Your bone and your gums are the foundation for your teeth. They are what hold your teeth in and keep them strong and stable. If you have periodontal disease, this can jeopardize the stability of your teeth, making them weak and fragile.
2. Avoid cavities at all costs
Cavities can also make your teeth weak and fragile. So we talked about the foundation of the teeth being the teeth and gums. Now I want you to think of your tooth as a tree, the roots are buried into the ground and make the tree stable (your bone and gums).
Now what happens if someone takes an axe and starts to hack away at the tree near the base? This makes the tree weak.
This is what cavities and tooth decay can do. The bacteria produces acids and these acids break down your teeth (hack away at them) to make them weak. It only take a few bites of that nice ribeye steak before you hear the “CRUNCH” sound and boom, your tooth is now broken.
This is why the number one thing you can do to keep your teeth strong is seeing your dentist regularly for exams and getting your treatment completed. Get your fillings done, even if “they don’t hurt though”.
What may not hurt now will blow up and cause issues down the road. Put the fire out and get the cavities fixed, get the cleaning you need done and make sure to always maintain proper oral hygiene with FRBR: Floss - Rinse - Brush - Repeat!
3. Fluoride is your friend
Next, use toothpaste and mouthwash that contains fluoride. Fluoride helps to make your teeth more acid-resistant.
What does that mean? Bacteria in your mouth eat the food (sugars, carbs, etc) off your teeth and they produce acids as a byproduct.
How bacteria affects your teeth
Basically the bacteria eat and poop out acid. This acid is what breaks down your teeth and caused them to become weak. The acid basically breaks down the enamel on your teeth and makes it thin. Think of it as thin ice. If the bacteria stays there and your hygiene does not improve, eventually the acid will break through the ice (your tooth enamel) and boom, now you have a cavitation in your tooth (cavity).
Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel
What fluoride does is it makes your teeth more aid-resistant so it takes more acid before your tooth enamel starts to break down. Also, if you have these areas on your teeth where the bacteria has already caused your enamel to become “thin ice”, fluoride can remineralize it and make it thick again and prevent a cavity from forming on your tooth. The last thing you want is severe tooth decay.
The trick with using fluoride products is to make sure they stay on your teeth. For example, you brush your teeth for 2 minutes, and then you rinse your mouth. You are only allowing the fluoride in your toothpaste to sit on your teeth for only 2 minutes before you wash it off.
This is WRONG!
What you want to do is brush and spit the excess toothpaste out but DO NOT RINSE.
Additional tips to keep your smile healthy
FRBR: Floss. Brush. Rinse. Repeat.
That is specifically why my recommended routine for oral hygiene is FRBR: FLOSS, then RINSE your mouth to flush out all of the loose food you just popped out with the floss, spit it out into the sink and see that lettuce and piece of chicken come out.
Then you BRUSH and go to sleep! The next day at night, REPEAT. The most important time to perform oral hygiene is right before bedtime. This allows the fluoride to absorb into your teeth while you sleep and doesn’t get washed away throughout the day as you eat and drink foods.
Also, bacteria cause most of their harm while you are sleeping.
Saliva helps strengthen your teeth, too
Most people sleep with their mouth open which caused their mouth to become dry. If your mouth is dry, there is less saliva in the mouth to keep the bacteria moving. Saliva production is a good thing!
Also, your saliva has phosphate and calcium in it to help remineralize your teeth. But because you do not have much saliva in your mouth while you sleep with your mouth open, the bacteria is stuck on your teeth, they eat the food off your teeth, produce acids and break down your teeth.
There is no help from your saliva to keep the bacteria moving and to deliver phosphate and calcium to counteract the acids and remineralize you teeth. That is why performing the FRBR oral hygiene routine before bed is important.
Yes, there will always be bacteria in your mouth and you will have less saliva because you are still sleeping with your mouth open. But guess what? There is no fuel source, no food for the bacteria to eat to produce acids!
Always sleep with a clean mouth
This is why you need to sleep with a clean mouth. Having fluoride on your teeth will also help remineralize your teeth and make the more acid-resistant. Fluoride contains natural teeth strengthening minerals.
When you wake up, you don’t need to floss your teeth but brushing your teeth and scraping your tongue is recommended to help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth as you start your day. It also helps to reduce bad breath. 90% of the bacteria that caused bad breath us on your tongue.
Avoid acidic or sugary foods
So now you are ready to go about your day with a nice clean mouth. It should be a goal of yours to keep your mouth clean throughout the day as you eat and drink. Your diet plays a huge role in keeping your teeth strong.
I want you to keep thinking about the bacteria using the food on your teeth to produce acids to break down your teeth and cause cavities. These cavities are what make your teeth weak and more fragile, making them more prone to fracturing. We have a saying in dentistry, “Sip all day get tooth decay”.
What we mean by that is we do not want you to sip on sugary drinks or juices all day long. For example, if you like to have a soda with your lunch, finish the soda during that lunch and no not sip on it for the rest of the day. Sugary drinks cause the pH in your mouth to drop and creates an acidic environment. Eating starchy foods combined with sugary and acidic foods is also a big no-no.
The acidic environment is where the bacteria like to be so they can multiply and cause cavities. Your saliva has the power to bring the pH back neutral. But if you sip on sugary drinks all day long or snack on sugary foods, your saliva is not able to restore the pH in your mouth to neutral.
This is why you do not want to sip all day or snack on sugary foods all day long. Water has a pH that is close to neutral and will help bring the pH back to neutral.
So as you are eating or drinking throughout the day, make sure to rinse afterward to help dislodge any food that may be stuck on your teeth and to help your saliva bring the pH back up to a neutral status. This will help reduce cavities and keep the acid buildup down in the mouth.
I haven’t even talked about acidic foods like lemon, orange juice, etc. The principles are the same. When you eat acidic fruits and foods, rinse with water after you eat these types of foods to promote healthy teeth. Damaging acid bacteria produce potential cavities.
Also, do not brush your teeth after having these acidic foods. For example, if you wake up, have breakfast with a cup of orange juice, and then brush your teeth, you can actually cause harm to your enamel.
What does acid do to your teeth?
The acid makes your tooth enamel “soft”. Basically like the “thin ice” analogy I referred to earlier. So if you brush your teeth after having something acidic, like orange juice, you can wear away your enamel, making your teeth weaker, more sensitive, and sometimes, more yellow because the dentin will start to show through.
Lastly, please don’t chew on ice! Chewing on ice can cause micro fractures in your teeth which can lead to large fractures later on.
If you clench your teeth at night, talk to your dentist about ways to treat teeth grinding. Bruxism can also weaken your tooth enamel.
Also, amalgam fillings can cause fractures in your teeth as they are typically larger in size when compared to composite (tooth-colored) fillings. I talk more about this on my YouTube series called “FLOSSUP” so check that out!
Recap time! To keep you teeth strong and healthy, see your dentist regularly for routine dental exams, treatment, and cleanings.
This is your best bet to keep your teeth strong, happy, and healthy. Next, you want to make sure you maintain proper oral hygiene with FRBR: Floss - Rinse - Brush - Repeat, especially right before bed.
Periodontal disease makes the foundation of your teeth weak (the bone and gums) and make them more prone to falling our or breaking. Cavities make your teeth weak and can cause them to crumble while eating.
Use fluoride mouthwashes and toothpaste to remineralize your teeth and to make them more acid-resistant.
Your diet is important so be mindful of what you are eating. Not only is your diet important in keeping your teeth strong and healthy, it is also extremely important in your overall health. Eat probiotic-rich foods and keep a balanced diet. Eating healthy fats and avoiding sugars will help you in long run. Avoid soda and fruit juice as much as possible.
So take control of your health and ensure your teeth are strong and stable by following these suggestions.
- Dr. Gibbz (Public Health Dentist)
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only and there is no doctor/patient relationship being established by reading this article. Always consult with your dentist or primary care provider. This article is not intended to offer medical or dental advice to anyone, it is not intended to diagnose any medical or dental conditions that you may have. There are no warranties and/or guarantees being made with the information being presented in this article.