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Lifestyle Tips for Healthy Teeth

Taking care of your general health and your mouth is the key to making the most of your smile. Brushing your teeth twice a day (last thing at night before you go to bed and on one other occasion) with fluoride toothpaste and having regular check-ups with a dentist can help to keep your teeth healthy. Diet, smoking and drinking alcohol also have an effect on dental health. The followings are what you should know.

Reduce sugar to prevent tooth decay

Limiting the amount of sugar you eat and drink is important to prevent tooth decay.

A lot of the sugars we eat and drink are in food and drinks such as:

  • fruit juice, including unsweetened fresh fruit juice and smoothies
  • buns, pastries and fruit pies
  • sponge puddings and other puddings
  • table sugar added to food or drinks, such as tea
  • sugary breakfast cereals
  • jams, marmalades, honey and syrups
  • ice cream and sorbets
  • dried fruit or fruit in syrup
  • syrups and sweet sauces

Here’s why sugar is bad for your teeth, plus how to cut down on sugar:

Stick to one glass of fruit juice or smoothie a day

Sugars occur naturally in foods such as fruit and milk, but we don’t need to cut down on these types of sugars.

However, when fruit is juiced or blended, as in smoothies, the sugars are released from the structure of the fruit. Once released, these sugars can damage your teeth so it’s best to drink fruit juice or smoothies at mealtimes. Your combined total of drinks from fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies should not be more than 150ml a day – which is a small glass. For example, if you have 150ml of orange juice and 150ml smoothie in one day, you’ll have exceeded the recommendation by 150ml.

 How smoking damages teeth

Smoking can stain your teeth yellow, cause bad breath, and increase your risk of gum disease, as well as cause many other serious health problems.

Alcohol and oral health

Alcohol can also erode the outer surface of the teeth, leading to a loss of enamel. If this happens, you may need to go to the dentist for a filling. Drinking too much has also been linked to an increased risk of developing mouth cancer. The most important risk factors for mouth cancer are the combined effect of smoking AND drinking alcohol.

It is estimated that heavy drinkers and smokers have a 38 times increased risk of developing mouth cancer than people who neither drink nor smoke.

Foods and drinks can stain your teeth

Wine, cigarette smoke, tea and coffee are all teeth-staining culprits. Keep them to a minimum to stop your teeth becoming stained. Your dentist or hygienist can give your teeth a professional clean, which may help to reduce the staining. If you want to find out about other options, such as teeth whitening, have a chat with your dentist.

 

NHS Choices

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