Most of us spend a great deal of time and energy trying to keep our muscles, organs, and bones as strong and healthy as possible—Yet we all too often forget about our teeth. It’s an understandable oversight; we have, after all, largely been taught that our teeth are inert once they grow in, rather like hair or fingernails. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth: Our teeth are a vital, living part of our bodies that have an active role in ensuring our total health… And just like the rest of our bodies require a strong foundation of good nutrition and attentive medical care, our teeth benefit from healthy lifestyle adjustments.
How To Keep Teeth Healthy: 3 Key Strategies
Though the basics of good dental health will always start with regular brushing and flossing, there’s a lot more you can do to build stronger teeth. If you’re wondering how to make teeth strong (and keep them that way!), then the three tips below are for you:
1. Eat a healthy diet rich in “teeth vitamins.”
Just like there are vitamins that can enhance the health of our eyes, hearts, brains, etc., there are vitamins that are particularly necessary for optimal dental health. Vitamin A, Vitamin D, B Vitamins (specifically niacin and riboflavin), and Vitamin C are all essential. Some of these vitamins, like Vitamin D, act directly to strengthen tooth enamel (by improving calcium absorption), while others (especially Vitamin A and C) reduce inflammation and therefore ward off gum disease. Vitamin E is also a great health booster for gum tissue. (More teeth are lost to gum disease every year than to decay, so keeping the tissue around your teeth healthy is extremely important.) Certain minerals are also excellent for building stronger teeth, notably Calcium, Iron, and Zinc.
2. Avoid sugar and “simple” carbohydrates.
It’s no old wives’ tale that sugar contributes to tooth decay; the bacteria in dental plaque produces acid as it digests sugar, and this acid can quickly eat holes in your enamel. What most people don’t realize, however, is that this bacteria digests simple carbohydrates (such as those found in white bread, crackers, and potato chips) just as readily. In some cases, savory carb-rich foods (chips and crackers especially) can actually be worse than sweet treats because they tend to stick to teeth longer than, for instance, a piece of chocolate (which rapidly dissolves in the mouth). To limit tooth decay, stick to a diet that’s rich in complex whole grains and protein.
3. Visit your dentist regularly.
Most people save dental appointments for when they have obvious signs of tooth decay (usually pain), but this is not the ideal strategy to ensure you maintain strong teeth. A dentist is more than just a person who patches up the holes in your teeth: He or she can check for early signs of gum disease, nutritional deficiencies, and health problems (like diabetes) that may undermine the strength of your teeth. This will empower you to take action early in addressing problems that may weaken your teeth gradually. Remember: Prevention is the best medicine.
There’s no substitute for strong, healthy teeth. Excellent dentition can do everything from allow us to eat more nutritious foods (which typically require more intense chewing) to protect us from heart disease. If you take care of your teeth, they will take care of you.
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My name is Jeremy Rourke. I’m part of a family of dentists with my father, brother, cousin and nephew also being dentists. I won a University of Sydney Dental Alumni prize for being the top student in my year and graduated with Honours in 1971. I have been a Registered dentist for over 40 years. In that time I have created a few “firsts” in my efforts to stay ahead.