6 ways to help take care of your teeth and gums

Many people take their oral health for granted. They may remember to brush and floss daily but are not aware of other steps they can take to maintain a healthy mouth. Consider six ways to help take care of your teeth and gums:

  1. Sleep better – Nearly 35 percent of Americans get less than the recommended seven hours of shut-eye each night. Often restful sleep is inhibited by allergies and breathing problems, which can cause snoring, dry mouth and teeth grinding. Medications, breathing exercises and yoga can help improve sleep. Contact your dentist or medical doctor for advice.
  2. Drink water – Sparkling water is a popular beverage choice for many people. However, if it’s flavored with citric and fruit acids, it can damage tooth enamel because of its low pH. So, when getting your daily water intake, choose pure water. Drink less fruit juice, soda, and energy drinks, which can contribute to tooth decay.
  3. Eat nutritiously – Choose foods rich in vitamins A, D, E and K, such as fresh fruits, leafy vegetables, nuts, lean meats, and low-fat dairy. Eating these foods helps strengthen your jawbone and teeth enamel. Plus, chewing activates your salivary glands, and saliva helps reduce the effects of acidity.
  4. Exercise regularlyResearch shows that nonsmokers and former smokers who power walk or jog regularly can lower their risk of developing periodontal disease or gingivitis. For maximum benefit, walk for at least 30 minutes five days a week. Or, condense your workout to three days a week with vigorous exercise, such as running or swimming laps.
  5. Try oil pulling – Swishing a teaspoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 15 minutes daily can help remove plaque from underneath the gums, reduce gum inflammation, eliminate bad breath, and naturally whiten teeth. Coconut oil is gentle, natural and readily available in grocery stores.
  6. Go to the dentist – See your dentist regularly for an oral exam and teeth cleaning. During the appointment, your dentist will assess your oral health, look for signs of medical problems, and remove plaque. It’s the bacteria in the plaque that collects on your teeth that can contribute to decay.

My Body + Soul
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Chicago Tribune

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