How to keep healthy teeth

The main function of teeth is to grind food so it can be swallowed and digested. Sick, weakened; moreover, missing teeth can prevent a person from eating normally, making him more susceptible to disease.

In addition, strong and beautiful teeth give self-confidence, allowing you to feel comfortable in society.

How do you recognize the upcoming oral cavity problems, the causes of tooth decay, and how to keep them healthy?

Signs of diseases in the oral cavity

Some oral problems can be seen with the naked eye; others may not be known until painful sensations appear.

How to keep healthy teeth

Here are some of the most common signs of impending oral problems:

  • Bad breath is caused by bacteria in your mouth or a bad taste.
  • Accumulation of tartar. The brown layer that forms between the teeth and at the point of contact with the gums is nothing more than bacterial plaque not removed in time and hardened so that it cannot be removed with a regular brush.
  • Swollen and/or bleeding gums. This condition of the gums is affected by an excessive accumulation of bacteria in the mouth, and you may have gingivitis. If left untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease. By the way, if you smoke, you likely have gum problems, but they do not bleed due to the vasoconstrictive effect of tobacco.


Caries are a disease that affects the tissues of the teeth, which are destroyed by the acids of bacterial plaque. These bacteria feed on the sugars and starches present in dental plaque and, in doing so, produce acids that remove the mineral layers from the enamel of our teeth. This process is called demineralization (usually, its symptom is a white spot on the teeth). 

How to keep healthy teeth

If there are many cycles of demineralization, the result will be a cavity, a hole in the tooth, and if this process is not stopped in time, it will gradually destroy the deeper layers of our tooth. Affected teeth usually perforate gradually, and pain occurs if the infection reaches the nerve. 

The main symptom of caries is pain, especially when eating hot or cold, as well as sweet foods or drinks.

The main methods of treatment:

  • Sealing. It involves the removal of a carious tooth area and its replacement with a material such as porcelain alloys, silver, gold, or composite resin.
  • Root canal treatment. Recommended if the nerve of the tooth is dying. It consists of removing the tooth’s center and the destroyed parts and filling the roots with filling material.

How to prevent caries?

The most important thing is to maintain oral hygiene and get a professional cleaning every six months. An annual X-ray examination also helps detect carious cavities’ possible development.

Periodontal disease

The periodontium consists of several tissues: gum, the mucous membrane covering the alveolar part of the jaw, alveolar bone, and periodontium. When periodontal disease is limited to the gums, it is called gingivitis. When the entire periodontium is affected, it is called periodontitis.  

Periodontal disease is inflammation and infection that destroys the supporting tissues of the teeth. These can include gums, periodontal ligaments, and bones.

  • Gingivitis. This inflammation of the gums occurs due to exposure to plaque deposits on the teeth. If not removed, it turns into a hard deposit called tartar that forms at the tooth’s base. Plaque and tartar are sources of bacteria and toxins that cause gum inflammation and soreness.
How to keep healthy teeth

Visible signs of gingivitis: gums are red, smooth, swollen, and bleeds easily on contact, sometimes even spontaneously. 

These variables enhance the likelihood of gingivitis:

  • Certain infections and diseases of the whole body (systemic);
  • Poor dental hygiene;
  • Changes in hormones during pregnancy, make the gums more sensitive;
  • Diabetes;
  • Smoking;
  • Displaced teeth, rough edges of fillings, braces, dentures, bridges, and crowns;
  • Use of some medications and birth control pills.

Many people have gingivitis of varying severity. 

  • Periodontitis. It occurs when gum inflammation spreads to the ligaments and bones that support the teeth, causing them to become loose or even fall out. This is a very common dental disease and is usually the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
How to keep healthy teeth

The signs of both gingivitis and periodontitis are very similar:

  • Red gums, instead of their natural pink color
  • Bleeding gums while brushing teeth
  • Bad breath;
  • loose teeth;
  • Pain when touching the gums.

Periodontitis occurs due to improper treatment of gingivitis. Thus, the inflammation of the gums from gingivitis passes into the ligaments and bones that support the teeth. As this support deteriorates, the teeth will eventually fall out.

Proper oral hygiene is the best way to prevent periodontitis. 

As for its treatment, the first step is to reduce inflammation and remove plaque from the teeth and gums. To do this, a full professional oral hygiene will be carried out, which should be repeated every three months to prevent the re-accumulation of plaque. 

Treatment for periodontitis may also include surgery to remove the infection from the gums and restore the tooth’s support. The operation will consist of opening up the gums to deep clean them, providing support for loose teeth, and even removing a badly affected tooth to prevent the problem from spreading to other teeth.

Periodontal diseases are interrelated with many common diseases. Thus, high blood sugar levels exacerbate periodontal disease. The risk of cardiovascular disease is also higher in the presence of untreated periodontitis.

Pregnant women should consult their dentist early in their pregnancy. The fact is that hormonal changes increase the risk of periodontal disease, which, in turn, increases the risk of the premature birth of a child with low body weight.

Foods that destroy dental health

To keep your teeth strong and your enamel intact, avoid these foods.

  • Lollipops (caramel) and ice. Candy is full of sugar, which sticks to teeth and takes a long time to dissolve, damaging gums and teeth. And if you have a habit of chewing on caramel, you also put the enamel at risk, which is injured in this way. Limit the number of sweets, and when it is not possible to resist the temptation, try to brush your teeth immediately after to minimize the damage. The habit of chewing on ice can also cost your teeth health. 

How to keep healthy teeth
  • Sour drinks. Juices, energy drinks, and all sodas (including diet drinks) are full of sugar and acid, negatively affecting dental health.
  • Pasta. Starchy foods such as pasta, rice, and potatoes damage teeth because they break down into sugars that produce acids that erode tooth enamel.
  • Nuts. In addition to possibly cracking the enamel, chewing on hard nuts can also damage dental implants, dentures, and braces. Try eating smaller nuts, or ground into butter or paste.

Dental Health Products

According to the World Health Organization, between 60% and 90% of schoolchildren and almost 100% of adults worldwide suffer tooth decay. This statistic could be improved if most people’s eating habits changed.

How to keep healthy teeth

Certain foods can prevent cavities and gum disease. For example, these: 

  • Products with zinc. 

In addition to tooth decay and gum disease, most people suffer from bad breath. Good hygiene and proper nutrition can prevent or eliminate it.

Include foods rich in zinc in your diet. It is found in fish, shellfish, red meat, eggs, lentils, and nuts such as almonds and cashews. Water, tea, apples, oranges, and yogurt are good allies against bad breath.

  • Oily fish. 

Periodontal diseases such as gingivitis are partly due to bacteria present in food debris that remains between teeth.

Vitamin D facilitates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, making our gums and teeth much more resistant to these bacteria. You can get it under the sun’s influence and by eating fatty fish: herring, salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna.

Due to the high content of omega-3 acids, it is advisable to include fatty fish in your diet twice a week.

  •  Foods rich in vitamin C. 

This nutrient will help prevent the decline in collagen production, which is the main component of the gums. Therefore, collagen loss can cause serious problems such as receding gums.

Orange, lemon, grapefruit, tangerine, kiwi, red pepper, parsley, blackcurrant, broccoli, watercress, and papaya are all good sources of vitamin C.

How to keep healthy teeth
  • Dairy. 

Milk, cheese, and yogurt are excellent sources of calcium, an essential mineral for our bones and teeth.

Experts emphasize that including cheese in our diet protects our teeth, as by consuming it, we produce more saliva, which is rich in bactericidal properties.

Spinach, chickpeas, squid, broccoli, kale, and tofu are also good sources of calcium.

  • Eggs, beans, and squash. 

Just as much as calcium, phosphorus is critical for optimal maintenance of tooth structure.

This mineral is found in animal products such as milk, eggs, and fish.

If you are a vegetarian, you can get phosphorus from legumes, nuts, or squash.

  • Celery. 

This herb contains malic acid, which promotes saliva production, cleans teeth, and removes stains.

Like all vegetables, celery is best eaten raw as it retains its nutritional properties. Add small pieces of tender stems and leaves to salads.

  • Green tea. 

This drink contains catechin, an antioxidant that helps prevent gum disease caused by bacteria.

If green tea seems too bitter, add a slice of lemon or a little milk.

How to keep your teeth healthy

It is quite possible to preserve the functionality and attractiveness of teeth for many years. The main thing is to pay attention to them, following simple recommendations. 

1. Thoroughly brush your teeth. 

This is the most common advice: you must brush your teeth daily, and everyone knows this. However, few people are capable of doing so.

Choose a brush with soft bristles and a small head to reach those hard-to-reach places. Change your brush every three months or sooner if you see that the bristles are deformed. It doesn’t matter if you use a conventional or electric toothbrush, as long as you pay attention to each tooth.

How to keep healthy teeth

Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water before brushing your teeth to remove food debris.

Then imagine that your mouth is divided into four parts, and start in order, moving from the back in each quadrant of the mouth. Spend 30 seconds on each area.

Brush with light force about 20 times each tooth in front and behind (and in the case of molars – in its flat part) in a circular motion on each part of the tooth. 

Brushing your teeth should last 2-3 minutes and should be done at least twice daily (morning and evening), ideally after each meal.

Do not rinse toothpaste with water! Spit out the excess paste, but don’t finish cleaning with a water rinse. Otherwise, the fluoride in the paste won’t have a chance to remineralize the enamel. 

2. Use fluoride toothpaste to remineralize enamel.

Enamel is composed of minerals like calcium and phosphate. Fluoride is another mineral that helps strengthen and remineralize tooth enamel by forming new crystals and making it resistant to acid attacks by bacteria. 

How much fluoride should be in toothpaste? Its concentration must be at least 1000 ppm (parts per million). The amount of fluoride can be found on the ingredient list of your toothpaste.

3. Use dental floss to clean between your teeth.

If you don’t floss, an average of 35% of your teeth don’t get cleaned at all. The space between the teeth is one of the areas where plaque buildup is most likely to occur, hence the occurrence of cavities and other diseases mentioned above. 

How to keep healthy teeth

How to use dental floss? The floss should be inserted between two teeth easily or with little pressure, but without pain (be careful of your gums!); you must swipe up and down to remove any remaining plaque stuck to your teeth. You should do this at least once daily, along with regular brushing.

4. Clean your tongue.

The tongue occupies about half of the entire surface of the oral mucosa and contains several functions, such as speech, swallowing and chewing, absorption, and the sense of taste. 

Why is it important to clean your tongue? Because of its anatomy, it is one of the parts of our body where the most bacteria accumulate, many of which are responsible for bad breath, periodontal disease, and cavities. Therefore, tongue cleaning should be part of our daily routine. 

How to clean the tongue? A specially designed tongue scraper can be found in pharmacies or stores, and quite a few brushes have such a scraper on the back. 

Before brushing your teeth:

  • Run the tongue scraper from the farthest part of your tongue to the front.
  • Rinse the scraper.
  • Repeat as many times as needed until your tongue turns pink.

Rinse your mouth with plenty of water and continue brushing your teeth, as we explained earlier. It is recommended to clean the tongue before going to bed because, at night, bacteria accumulate even more rapidly due to a slight release of saliva.

5. Avoid using your teeth as tools.

Teeth covered with enamel (one of the hardest substances in our body) are very strong and, at the same time, fragile, like porcelain, because they cannot renew like many other bodily parts. To avoid wear, injury, and breakage of your teeth, stop biting your nails or cuticles, and never open bottles with your teeth.  

6. Eat a healthy diet.

Avoid Sugar: According to scientists, by reducing the amount of sugar and other sources of simple carbohydrates that are easily fermented, the risk of tooth decay is reduced. In addition, most high-sugar foods do not provide your body with nutrients.

And not only the amount of sugar you eat, but the frequency and texture of food increase your risk of developing cavities. Therefore, avoiding sticky products or those that dissolve slowly is recommended. 

healthy teeth

Read labels to avoid foods high in sugar. If it (in all versions of its name) is listed as one of the first ingredients, you can be sure there is too much of it in this product. 

Here are some of the names of sugars:

  • Brown sugar;
  • Cane sugar;
  • corn syrup;
  • Maltose;
  • Fructose;
  • Sucrose;
  • Glucose;
  • Dextrose (in general, anything that ends in “-ose” indicates sugar); 
  • Fruit juice concentrate;
  • Honey, any syrup or molasses, invert sugar, etc.

If you are thirsty, choose water rather than sugary drinks, which are especially harmful.

Limit snacking between meals. If you need to eat something, such as between breakfast and lunch, choose nutritious options like sugar-free dairy, nuts, fresh fruits, and vegetables. This is not only a tip for maintaining healthy teeth but also a good habit for the whole body.

7. Practice professional oral hygiene.

To maintain oral health, it is also very important to have a professional cleaning once a year. The dentist will remove excess plaque, remove tartar and give advice that is relevant to you. 

Taking care of the oral cavity is feasible for each of us. The vast majority of dental diseases are 100% preventable, and in just 5 minutes a day, you can keep your teeth healthy and clean.

Brief conclusions

  • One of the first signs of future oral problems is bad breath and tartar.
  • Some foods are both destructive to teeth and good for them. It is important to enrich your diet with the latter.
  • Keeping your teeth healthy will help both proper care for them and careful attention to the ingredients in the products.

List of used literature

  1. Cutler CM, Baker TA. Navigating your health benefits for dummies. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2006.
  2. DeStefano F, Anda RF, Kahn HS, Williamson DF, Russell CM. Dental disease and risk of coronary heart disease and mortality. british medical journal. 1993;306(6879):688–691. 
  3. Divaris K, Lee JY, Baker AD, Vann WF Jr. Acta Odontologica Scandinavica. 2011. Caregivers’ oral health literacy and their young children’s oral health-related quality-of-life.

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