To our dear Kaua`i friends, patients, and community,
During this time of sheltering and trying to keep ourselves and our `ohana safe and healthy, we've been getting questions about what can be done at home to take care of our oral health when we can’t go to the dentist for our regular cleanings. There are several things you can do to improve your oral health – and your overall health -- during this stressful time! We will split this information into four parts so make sure to check out each one: nutrition, brushing, flossing, and mouthwash.
Water, water, water!
Water is very important for our teeth. It helps clean and neutralize acids in our mouth and wash away food particles that can cause cavities and gum issues over time. Avoid sweetened drinks and ones with preservatives like citric acid that can increase the acid in your mouth and lead to decay.
Choose foods high in calcium and phosphorus.
Low-fat and low-sugar dairy products, dark leafy greens and coconut meat can be a wonderful source of calcium for our bodies, while lean proteins tend to be rich in phosphorus. These minerals help make up the hard, outer layer of our teeth and can keep them strong!
Eat your fruits and veggies and support our local farmers.
These nutritious foods tend to be high in water and fiber, which helps scrape and clean our teeth as we chew. Be cautious with too much citrus, which has a higher acid content.
Snack on nuts.
Nuts are high in protein and contain many vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats our bodies need to function. They are also very low in carbohydrates, so are not converted to sugar in our mouths, which can cause decay. Just like many fruits and veggies, they also scrape our teeth clean as we chew while producing a lot of saliva to help neutralize and clean our teeth at the same time.
Even healthy carbs are carbs.
All carbohydrates start to convert to sugar in our mouths through enzymes in our saliva and the cavity-causing bacteria in our mouth. Brown rice, whole grain and sprouted breads, and gluten-free crackers, while very healthy for our bodies, get chewed and compacted into the grooves of our teeth, turning sticky and hard to remove while they convert to sugar, and in turn, acid.
Remember the 20-minute rule.
That's about the amount of time it takes for acid in your diet and the bacteria in your mouth to start eroding and breaking down your enamel, or the outer layer of your tooth. If you are constantly sipping and/or snacking on something, your saliva never has a chance to wash it away and the breakdown of your teeth can start to occur more rapidly.
Chew sugar-free gum.
Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal, or throughout the day, can decrease snacking and clean food particles off your teeth and out of the deep grooves of the biting and chewing surfaces that are more prone to decay. It will also continue to stimulate your saliva and aid the process of washing away food particles and acid while bringing your mouth back to a neutral level. Try to find gum that has xylitol in it. This sugar alcohol helps reduce cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth and inhibits their acid production.
**Consult a Nutritionist for a personal nutritional plan that works best for your overall health needs. This information is based on Dental Hygiene recommendations for oral health and does not include personal health complications.
Where to find these goodies
- Local Farmers markets
- Whole foods markets
- Try to find foods of all colors: greens, reds, yellows
Xylitol: Can find in Walmart/Safeway gum section or at the checkout aisles.
For more information and instructional videos, please visit the American Dental Association's website at www.mouthhealthy.org and our website www.KalaheoDental.com, or our Facebook page.
We sincerely appreciate serving you and our community during these trying times. Call or contact us with any of your dental questions or concerns. We are always happy to help! Keep yourself, your `ohana, and our community healthy by following the County's guidelines, supporting our local businesses, and getting out to exercise! We are all in this together and look forward to seeing your smiling faces very soon.