You don’t get back your teeth if they decay. It’s important to always stay on top of keeping your teeth healthy.
But why is it important?
The Structure of Teeth
The teeth have several parts, including the crown – the exposed part above the gum – and the roots, which anchor the teeth to the bones of the jaw and the skull. They are also surrounded by gingiva, or gums, which cushion and protect the teeth, and help them sit more securely in the bone socket.
Teeth also have a rich and complex nerve and blood vessel system. The nerves help you distinguish differences in pressure and texture – such as crunch vs soft – as well as temperature and several other sensations. The nerves help you determine how much pressure to use when biting or chewing, and whether or not something is too hot or cold.
The blood vessels provide the nutrients that keep your teeth alive and functional. They also carry wastes and away from the gums and teeth. The dental blood vessel system also plays a major role in your overall health.
Tooth Health and Body Health
Acids and bases play a major role in the health of your teeth. If the environment in your mouth is too acidic, then bacteria can grow on the surface of the teeth, and in the spaces where the teeth and gums meet. Things that contribute to the acidity of your mouth include: acidic foods and beverages, sugar, and poor dental hygiene.
In the case of acidic foods, the acid in the food eats away at the enamel, making it weak and prone to decay. In the case of sugar, the bacteria that lives in your mouth eats the sugar, causing it to ferment and release acid.
The bacteria that grows on your teeth not only causes cavities, it can also cause gum disease. Those same bacteria can also get into the blood stream, through the damaged gums, and cause inflammation and damage in other parts of your body.
Poor dental hygiene, and especially gum disease, has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and even rheumatoid arthritis.
Preventing the Damage
Some acidic foods, like fresh fruits, are actually good for you, and you need to eat them for good health. This is why it is important to brush your teeth at least twice a day to remove the acid left behind by these foods.
Flossing and mouthwash are also essential because they remove food particles from between your teeth. Provides an added benefit of killing some of the bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease.
Whenever possible, replace sugary treats with sugar-free alternatives. Look for products that contain Xylitol. Like sugar, Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance found in plants. But, unlike sugar, Xylitol does not make your mouth acidic because it does not ferment. In fact, regular use of Xylitol gum and other Xylitol-containing products, can actually help maintain the proper pH balance in your mouth.
Another option for protecting your teeth is to remain well-hydrated. Your saliva helps wash the sugar off your teeth. But your salivary glands rely on water for making saliva. Staying well-hydrated ensures you can make enough saliva to protect your teeth.
Chewing gum, and sucking on sugar-free hard candy, can also stimulate saliva production. So the combination of Xylitol-containing gum or candy, with your natural saliva production, performs double duty in protecting your teeth.
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Taking care of your teeth does more than preserve your smile. Healthy teeth and gums can be the first line of defense against many common illnesses. A daily cleaning regimen, and the use of Xylitol-containing products – along with regular visits to the dentist – will protect your teeth, and your health.