A bright, healthy smile makes a great first impression. But good dental care is about more than just your teeth. Did you know that how you care for your teeth and gums can affect whole body health? It’s true! Bacteria in the mouth is linked to tooth decay and gum disease, and researchers have found that advanced gum disease is linked with other health problems, including heart disease and stroke. Preventing gum disease is an important step in maintaining overall health – and it’s about more than using trendy charcoal toothpaste. More on that later…

First things first. It’s important to know the steps you can take to ensure a clean mouth and better overall health. The Canadian Dental Association suggests the following:

  1. Brush at least twice a day.
  2. Floss once a day.
  3. Limit sugary snacks and drinks, including fruit juices.
  4. Don’t smoke or use any tobacco products.
  5. Have an examination as often as is recommended by your dentist. The frequency will be based on your individual needs and the risk of oral diseases.
  6. Have your teeth cleaned and polished as per the schedule recommended by your dentist.

Why are brushing and flossing so important? These practices remove bacteria, so they lower the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing twice daily is a great start, but flossing is also important since it helps with hard-to-reach tooth surfaces.

Will any toothbrush do? As long as it’s not more than three months old and the bristles are soft but not bent, you are a-okay. If you can, invest in an electric toothbrush for even cleaner teeth. Studies show that electric toothbrushes are better at removing plaque bacteria on teeth compared to manual brushes. Removing plaque is vital to help reduce the risk of tooth decay and dental cavities.

Flouride vs. Natural Toothpaste

There are many tooth-cleaning products on the market, which are advertised to do everything from whitening teeth, to helping with tooth sensitivity, to granting all-day fresh breath. The Canadian Dental Association recommends using fluoride toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay. Other than that, the rest of the attributes really depends on what you are looking for.

Some people are trying different powders for tooth cleaning and whitening, based on popular social media praise. Charcoal gets a lot of hype. It seems counter-intuitive that something black like charcoal or soot will make teeth look whiter, but scientists have been studying this phenomenon to see what all the buzz is about.

Seems it’s all for naught. The results of a 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association do not support the practice of using charcoal on teeth. They found that charcoal may be abrasive to enamel, and that Internet advertisements included unsubstantiated therapeutic claims such as antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and oral detoxification, as well as potentially misleading product assertions. In other words, don’t believe the hype! The study’s authors concluded by saying that there is insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal for teeth.

So, the best way to keep plaque at bay and ensure a healthy smile are still the same old lessons we learned as kids. Brush, floss, and be wary of too such sugar.

Cara Rosenbloom

Author Cara Rosenbloom

Registered Dietitian Cara Rosenbloom is the president of Words to Eat By, a Toronto-based nutrition communications company specializing in writing, recipe development and nutrition education. Read her blog and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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