You know you’re supposed to regularly brush, floss, and attend routine dental check-ups. What you may not know is that there are some things you can do beyond the ordinary to help encourage super-human oral health.
7 Unusual Steps for Promoting Oral Health
Though you may think you’re doing well to find time to brush and floss every day, you can do even more for your oral health without having to take extra time out of your busy schedule. Things like using a straw, for instance, can help protect your teeth from acid erosion while not taking any extra effort or time.
Here are seven other simple and easy things you can do to protect your teeth and increase your odds of avoiding gum disease.
- Raisins: You wouldn’t think these would be good for your teeth, because they’re sweet and sticky. Yet a study published in 2005 found that certain compounds in raisins fight bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum disease. These include oleanolic acid, betulin, and other antioxidants. They even prevent the microorganisms from sticking to the enamel surface, blocking the formation of plaque.
- Xylitol chewing gum: This sweetener can starve out oral bacteria, encouraging healthy teeth. In one study, chewing xylitol gums significantly reduced cavities in children. You’ll find it in gum and other oral hygiene products, and you can also get it in powdered form and use it in any recipe.
- Green tea: Whereas black tea can stain teeth, green tea is easier on the pearly whites, yet can help fight against the formation of plaque and reduce the acids that cause tooth decay. A 2009 study found that patients who drank at least one cup of green tea per day had superior periodontal health compared to those who did not. Another study found that components in green tea inhibit the growth of oral bacteria, and interfere with the production of hydrogen sulfide—which causes bad breath. Green tea also has powerful antioxidants that neutralize cancer-causing free radicals.
- Vitamin C: Recent studies have discovered that vitamin C can help enhance wound repair following dental extractions by increasing the body’s construction of scar tissue and the synthesis and deposition of collagen. Vitamin C deficiencies can result in gingivitis and periodontal inflammation—even tooth loss. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin C!
- Probiotics: This is an exciting area of new research in dental health. Studies have shown that probiotics can help clear cavity-causing bacteria from the mouth, making it a possible new ingredient in gums and candies for healthy teeth. A 2006 study found that a mouthwash containing probiotics helped fight the bacteria that cause bad breath. Preliminary research also shows that probiotics may help inhibit the growth of the yeast responsible for oral thrush. Another reason to reach for live cultures in a yogurt or kefir snack!
- Cranberries: Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center found that the same traits that make cranberry juice effective against bladder infections may also help protect teeth against cavities. Scientists found that cranberry juice acts like “Teflon” for teeth, making it difficult for bacteria to cling to tooth surfaces. It also helped disrupt the formation of plaque. Science is still looking into it, but a homemade cranberry mouthwash (unsweetened) may be beneficial.
- Cheese: If you’re vegan, this may not be an option, but studies have found that cheese has compounds that reduce the risk of cavities—making it a great after-meal snack. (Just watch the calories.) A review of the literature found that cheese stimulates saliva flow, plus reduces the levels of bacteria in the mouth. Scientists also theorize that the high calcium and phosphorus content in cheese may also help encourage oral health.
Do you have other natural tips for health teeth and gums? Please share!
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American Society for Microbiology (2005, June 13). Raisins As A Functional Food For Oral Health. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 18, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2005/06/050613062724.htm.
K.K. Makinen, et al., “Xylitol Chewing Gum and Caries Rates: A 40-Month Cohort Study,” J Dent Res 74(12): 1904-1913, December 1995, http://pocarisweat.umdl.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/68231/10.1177_00220345950740121501.pdf;jsessionid=C2994011B468D3099DC50F9E7C7A5D42?sequence=2.
“Go Green for Healthy Teeth and Gums,” Perio.org, March 5, 2009, http://www.perio.org/consumer/green-tea.
“Tea Fights Bad Breath,” Unviersity of Illinois at Chicago, May 20, 2003, http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2003-05/uoia-tfb051403.php.
R.A. Halbertstein, “Vitamin C and Dental Health,” Nova Publishers, https://www.novapublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=5410.
Stephen Daniells, “Probiotic gums and candies show oral health potential,” NutraIngredients-usa.com, April 19, 2010, http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Probiotic-gums-and-candies-show-oral-health-potential.
J.P. Burton, et al, “A preliminary study of the effect of probiotic Streptococcus salivarius K12 on oral malodour parameters,” Journal of Applied Microbiology, 100 (2006): 754-764, http://www.badbreath.com.au/media/jam_2837.pdf.
Stephen Daniells, “Probiotics’ oral health potential gathers pace,” NutraIngredients-usa.com, August 22, 2012, http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Probiotics-oral-health-potential-gathers-pace.
“Give Thanks for the Cranberry, Say Dental Researchers,” University of Rochester Medical Center, November 23, 2005, http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/index.cfm?id=947.