Here in the States we put a large emphasis on teeth. This is for good reason as most everything you put in your body passes through your mouth, so we should probably keep it clean. Let me give you some tips to keep those chompers healthy.
Contrary to what some toothpaste commercials would have you believe, bacteria do not drill holes in your teeth. Cavities are created when bacteria generate acid after they consume sugars left in your mouth from your most recent meals. It is this lower pH that leads to demineralization of your enamel. This allows for bacteria to spread into the tooth and, if unchecked, the juicy center where your nerve is. This is a recipe for some major discomfort. The steps to preventing this situation are quite simple and come down to one point: keep the pH neutral.
As noted above, bacteria create an acidic environment by consuming your… leftovers. Don’t give those bugs any help by feeding them sugary or acidic foods and drinks. Sadly, this includes favorites like candy, Coke (pH ~2.5), and Red Bull (pH ~3.3).
Now I know what you’re thinking, ‘I’ll just brush my teeth after eating that giant bag of cotton candy!’ Wrong. Don’t do that. After meals or drinking acidic beverages, when your mouth is in an acidic state, it’s best not to rub a toothbrush over weakened enamel. If you can’t avoid naughty foods, rinse your mouth with some water which usually has a pH ~7. Note some bottled water has a lower pH but anything greater than 6 is beneficial in protecting your enamel, which demineralizes at pH ~5.5. After eating, drinking, or even throwing up, you want to wait about 30-45 minutes before brushing to let the pH increase enough to allow your enamel to re-mineralize. This is also why, for oral health, it is recommended to only eat three meals a day so your mouth isn’t constantly inundated with sugars for bacteria to feast upon.
While brushing twice a day (at least 30 minutes after meals) helps a lot to remove food debris and plaque buildup, it is also important to floss to clean between your teeth. It is nigh impossible for your toothbrush to reach this area, much less adequately clean it, so flossing is essential for maintaining healthy teeth. The most common place for cavities is between teeth where only floss can get, so don’t listen to the reports claiming flossing hasn’t been proven effective unless you want to experience its worth firsthand.
While there is certainly more you can do to minimize the risk of cavities – using an alcohol-based mouthwash and an electric toothbrush, drinking water throughout the day, and visiting the dentist twice a year to name a few – controlling the pH of your mouth will go a long way in keeping your teeth healthy and strong.