Sometimes brushing twice a day and flossing nightly just isn’t enough. Here, a Holistic Dentist explains why oil pulling, staying hydrated and eating crunchy foods can help improve your oral hygiene for a whiter, brighter smile.
Ever gone to bed without brushing your teeth? Me too – safe space don’t worry. Rarely floss? Same. Sometimes we need a reminder to kick us back into gear- especially when it comes to oral hygiene. Spending time and money on at-home teeth whitening kits doesn’t count, by the way.
Luckily for us Holistic Dentist Dr Lewis Ehrlich from Sydney Holistic Dental Centre is here to explain the benefits of a dental detox, decipher if still is better than sparkling and explain why certain textured foods are great for our teeth.
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Q: What is a ‘dental detox’ and how does it work?
A: Every time we pick up our floss and a toothbrush with toothpaste on it we are technically performing a ‘dental detox’. When it comes to brushing, this should be done in the morning and before we go to sleep with proper technique for two minutes. Flossing should be done nightly.
Our nutritional choices also play a role. When we eat throughout the day, we’re feeding bacteria that may be “good” or “bad” for us depending on what we’ve eaten. Making sure that we avoid food and beverages that are refined, processed and high in sugar can assist with maintaining a healthy mouth and a healthy oral microbiome. Instead of these, aim for foods that are natural, high in vitamins A, D, E and K, fibre and Omega-3’s.
Thinking more long-term, we tend to be creatures of habit. We brush the same way over and over again and miss spots. This can result in an accumulation of plaque and subsequent inflammation. So, a thorough clean usually twice a year to ensure our teeth and gums are in good shape. If someone has gum disease, professional cleaning may be needed more frequently.
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Q: What are the physical signs you may need a dental detox?
A: Signs that your mouth may need a ‘dental detox’ are, red, inflamed, bleeding and receding gums; an accumulation of stains from teas, coffee and red wine; worn down teeth from clenching and/or grinding; headaches and neck aches which may be a result of tooth grinding; sleep apnea or snoring; bad breath; and painful or sensitive teeth.
However, it should be noted that the absence of pain should not be the barometer of oral health. Most dental problems, including oral cancer, gum disease, tooth infections and tooth decay do not usually cause pain and therefore, you may not even know they are there. This is why it is better to be proactive rather than reactive.
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Q: Why is flossing so important?
A: It is always important to brush with impeccable technique to ensure that we are not missing any spots. Flossing gets to areas that the brush cannot and helps to reduce your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. By minimising your risk of gum disease, you’re helping to minimise your risk of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis and many more systemic illnesses.
Q: Is oil pulling all it’s cracked up to be?
A: It has been shown in recent rigorous studies to help minimise gum inflammation. To oil pull, take a teaspoon of coconut oil and swish it around your mouth on-and-off for 15-20 mins. Make sure that you don’t swallow it. I would consider adding it daily to help maintain gum health and minimise inflammation.
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Q: Sparkling or still water – what’s best for oral health?
A: Beyond brushing and flossing, we should never underestimate the importance of hydration for a healthy, clean mouth. Still water is the best drink for oral health. It minimises our risk of tooth decay, gum disease and helps to buffer acids which are produced after we eat and drink. Sipping on water all day is a highly recommended addition to brushing a flossing.
Q: What are the best foods to eat for oral health?
A: Similarly, I would aim to be eating crunchy, healthy foods to help stimulate saliva. Snacks like celery sticks and carrots are natural, low in sugar and because we have to work hard to break them down in the mouth, we increase our saliva flow which is important for combating tooth decay and has a flushing effect in the mouth.
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