Do you find that you are always having issues maintaining your teeth properly? Have you resigned yourself to always having tooth decay? Do you dread visiting the dentist because of it? “I can’t help it! Soft teeth run in my family”
While some factors in keeping your mouth healthy are not entirely left to your discretion, the fact remains, good oral health IS up to you.
“Your teeth look fantastic!”
That’s what I said to a patient last Friday morning as I finished her 6-month checkup and cleaning. This patient was seen all too often for decay, root canals, and crowns. It felt like every few months, she was calling with broken teeth and pain. What was her response to my comment? She showed me a great smile and said: “I started to floss”.
Nutrition isn’t the only consideration for a healthy snack
There’s actually a lot more to the story than that. She is actually a raisin lover. Every morning, it was Raisin Bran. Snacks all day long were raisins.
Now don’t get me wrong. Raisins, or dried fruit in general, are great snacks to eat. Raisins are a snack rich in B vitamins, iron and potassium. Low in sodium, and high fiber is some of its other positive attributes. Besides nutrients, raisins are also a good source of carbohydrates for energy. Plus they are not loaded with all types of chemicals that we find in processed foods.
However, it is a sticky food. So all day long it sits and sticks in and around the teeth. This is a formula for disaster. This is especially true if we have a lot of fillings or as we age and expose more root surface.
Therefore, removal of the sticky, sugary residue is paramount to reaping all of the health benefits of this great snack while minimizing its downside.
Good oral health is like a three legged stool
Health and particularly oral health is like a “three-legged stool”. You need all three legs for the stool to stand upright. If one of the legs is faulty the stool can not stand. It will topple over. Having a healthy oral environment is dependent on three factors as well. These factors of good oral health are not in any particular order as we talk about them.
Leg 1: Your diet
First of all, we need to watch what we eat. The texture and makeup of foods can promote or deter oral disease. Certain foods are more conducive to creating an environment where bad bacteria can survive and grow. These bacteria are the prime culprits in cavities and gum disease.
These bacteria love the sticky and gooey foods that we all enjoy. As long as the food is stuck in our mouths, these bacteria have a Thanksgiving Day feast. Unfortunately, we are stuck with the bad effects of this feast.
Leg 2: Oral hygiene
Related to the first one, the second leg of our good oral health stool involves oral hygiene. In fact, it helps control the first one if sticky foods are a large part of our diet. It is comprised of those activities and tools that we use to reducing the effect of foods on our teeth. It is our actions that we employ to keep our mouth clean.
Brushing, flossing, using an oral irrigating device are some of those activities that we utilize to attain a clean mouth. Even rinsing one’s mouth with water after eating can be beneficial in certain circumstances. Yes, anything is better than nothing, which means the more you clean, the cleaner and better your oral health can be. So frequency is also an important factor.
Leg 3: Our DNA and predispositions
While the first two legs, we can control entirely. The last supporting leg of our good oral health stool is our own genetic makeup. Our personal DNA composition and how prone we are to decay or gum disease.
The reality is you may have a genetic predisposition to ‘soft teeth’ or ‘ bad gums’ which is detrimental to good oral health.
Well, that’s a bum rap! We can not control that at all. I believed that until I recently learned some new facts. I read and listen to a number of physicians. One of the latest trends in medicine is how lifestyle interacts with the cards that we are dealt with, in other words, our genetic makeup.
I recently had a conversation with a cardiologist who told me that even though someone may have genes for heart issues, one’s habits and lifestyle may prevent those “bad” genes from ever turning on. In other words, create an environment where your genetic makeup has a minimal influence on bad things happening to you.
Regarding your oral health, this translates to proper diet, brushing well and often, and seeing a professional at the recommended intervals so you can control the age old “soft teeth” or “bad gums run in my family” issues. Staying away from junk and practicing cleanliness will do wonders for our oral health. In fact, that is a prescription for good overall health in general.
Control your dental destiny
So if you are searching for a way to change your dental future and control your dental destiny, please feel free to call me and let’s talk about it. Good oral health is achievable! My wonderful staff and I will do everything that we can to move you along the way to this goal. I can be reached at 440.951.7856 and look forward to speaking to you.
Jeffrey Gross, DDS, FAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.
The Healthy Smile has two convenient locations!
34586 Lakeshore Boulevard (¼ mile west of Route 91 on Lakeshore Boulevard)
Eastlake, Ohio 44095
Severance Medical Arts Building, Suite 603
5 Severance Center
Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118