How many times a day do you smile? (Hopefully more times than you can count, but, if not, please go watch a cat video or whatever will get those face muscles working.) While you may be doing your best to lead a healthy lifestyle, you may be ignoring your teeth and putting a damper on your smile. Since it’s Oral Health Month (and since we want our smiles to look amazing for as long as humanly possible), we caught up with Dr. Janet Tamo, dentist and Crest and Oral-B Smile Council member, to find out some of the key mistakes you’re making with your smile — and how to fix them. (Psst! Want to win an oral health prize pack? Head here to enter!)
You’re not brushing your teeth for long enough
We’re probably all guilty of this one, but, as Dr. Tamo explains, “People tend to not brush for the full dentist recommended two minutes and can end up missing areas in their mouth that need cleaning. In fact, up to 80 per cent of people spend insufficient time brushing at least one zone in their mouths.” So the next time you think of speeding through your brushing routine (only to spend extra time perfecting that winged liner), remember that many oral health issues can lead to overall health issues in the long run. Need some help? Put a timer on your phone and go for the full two minutes or bring home the new Oral-B Genius 8000 toothbrush, which, when partnered with the app, can tell you which areas of your mouth you’re missing and will hold you accountable for brushing the full time.
You’re eating too many high-acidity foods
“It may be trendy to try juicing, smoothies and even focus heavily on salads as part of a day-to-day diet, but even those favourite juices, salad dressings, fresh fruits, lemon water and more cause enamel erosion; and surprisingly, it’s an issue that over 82 per cent of adults have,” explains Dr. Tamo. A lot of people have gotten on the morning lemon water routine (I definitely have), but the sad fact is that it’s actually damaging the enamel on your teeth, making them more sensitive and prone to damage. Her recommendation? “A tip that I love for balancing acids is to pair the high acid foods like a salad dressing with non-acidic foods like a chicken breast to balance the pH levels out. Who doesn’t love to hear that pairing red wine and cheese is actually beneficial to your teeth?” That’s something we can get on board with.
You’re eating too much sugar
We know you’ve heard this one before, but we keep talking about it because it’s still an issue. “Of course we don’t want to limit people on what they eat, but we do want people to be more mindful of the ways to mitigate enamel erosion,” she explains. “Foods that are high in sugar and acid like soda pop are not only bad for your teeth, but your overall health because of the quantity of sugar,” Dr. Tamo says, adding, “Eliminating these from your diet will help protect enamel erosion and your overall diet.” If you’re finding it hard to curb your sugar cravings (we feel you), add the Crest Pro-Health toothpaste to your routine. It’s the only toothpaste that has stannous fluoride, which, as Dr. Tamo explains, “is clinically proven to slow the progression of erosive tooth wear.”
You’re sipping on the wrong in-between-meals beverages
A balanced lifestyle is exactly that: balanced. But, when it comes to what you’re consuming in between your meals and snacks, one thin Dr. Tamo recommends is going for plain old water. “I wish that people would stop sipping on water with lemon or other citrus slices in between meals. Also coffee/tea with sugar or honey added is not a good beverage for between meals. Remember that what you drink is just as important as what you eat in between meals. Plain water is the most inexpensive and healthy beverage.” So before you reach for that 10am latte to get you through to lunch, think of your smile.
You’re not visiting your dentist regularly
Other than feelings of sensitivity, you’re probably not going to know if there are any issues with your teeth. Of course, if you’re brushing properly (for the two full minutes) and frequently enough (twice a day), then there shouldn’t be any issues, but you should still check in with your dentist and dental hygienist every six months to be sure. Dr. Tamo explains, “Oral health should be a priority! However, it can fall lower on people’s priority list because often they tend to focus their attention on diet and fitness since they equate that with good overall health. It’s important to remember that even if you maintain a very fit lifestyle, you are not completely healthy until your mouth is healthy!”