Up until around 200 years ago, your average person could expect to live for about 35 years.
From that perspective, having only 2 sets of teeth seems pretty reasonable. After those adult teeth come in by age 13, you only have to keep those chompers in good working order for 20ish years.
Of course, rapid advancements in medicine and other technologies means that you can probably expect to live to at least 80. That’s great news all around, but it means that you need to do make sure your adult teeth will last at least 50 years longer than our ancestors ever had to worry about.
When was the last time you bought something at a store and managed to make it last 3 or 4 times longer than it says it should on the packaging?
Fortunately, we’ve assembled a quick list of 6 easy tips that will keep your teeth chomping for years to come:
#1 - Brush Like a Champ
Every once in a while, we here at Epic Dental are accused of being too harsh on that old oral health standby of brushing and flossing.
It’s probably because of that cheeky little tagline we have printed all over Epic Gum & Mints - Better Than A Toothbrush. While we may be the first to tell you that your toothbrush is at best, an incomplete solution, the last thing we’d want you to is give up on brushing.
You probably already knew this, but one of the best things you can do is make sure your teeth are having a nice, thorough chat with your toothbrush a couple times a day.
Why is brushing so helpful? It scrubs away that icky plaque from your teeth. Plaque film isn’t just gross, it’s basically a giant housing complex for acid-producing, cavity-causing oral bacteria. Doing a daily renovation of your teeth makes it much more difficult for those bacteria to set up shop and deal lasting damage.
#2 - Make Sure You’re Using the RIGHT Toothpaste
What if I told you there’s a good chance that your toothpaste isn’t helping your oral health at all?
Removing plaque from your teeth is super important to having a healthy (and long-lasting) smile. Your toothbrush is great at scrubbing away that gunk.
But if you’re using a standard toothpaste off the shelf of your local grocery store, you may be better off brushing without it.
A recent study compared brushing with and without toothpaste, and it turns out that a lot of toothpastes can actually make your brushing less effective than brushing without any toothpaste at all.
That’s because mainstream toothpastes have all kinds of ingredients stuffed in there designed to make you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth, from flavors and sweeteners to make your paste taste good to foaming agents that fill your mouth with suds but don’t do anything to combat cavities.
That’s not to say you should bail on toothpaste entirely. If you want a toothpaste that’s going to do more than make you feel better, here’s what you should be looking for.
Avoid the sulfate family of foaming agents - toothpastes with sulfates foam up and feel really great on your tongue. The problem is you want your toothbrush to be abrasive enough to remove plaque film, and all this foam accomplishes is making your toothbrush more slippery.
You’ll also want to find a toothpaste that uses xylitol. We’ll talk about xylitol in more depth later in this article, but the short version is that xylitol is far and away the best sweetener for your smile. If your toothpaste isn’t putting xylitol to work for your teeth, it’s time to find a new one.
Admittedly, we have some skin in the game here - here at Epic we make our very own toothpaste that meets our high expectations of quality. If you’re looking to supercharge your toothbrush, there’s no better option in our humble opinion.
#3 - Stay Away From Alcohol-Based Mouthwash
At first glance, an alcohol-based mouthwash seems like it makes a lot of sense - Alcohol kills bacteria, so it should be a no-brainer, right?
There’s a problem, though - alcohol-based mouthwashes are typically very acidic. The number one threat to your smile (and the primary cause of cavities) is tooth-dissolving acid. The last thing you want to be doing after you brush is introduce a whole bunch enamel-eroding acid into your mouth.
Alcohol can also lead to intense dry mouth symptoms. Dry mouth doesn’t sound all that scary, but in addition to being highly uncomfortable, your body’s natural defense against acid erosion and tooth decay is your saliva. Using an alcohol mouthwash to increase acid and decrease saliva is a great way to find yourself in your dentist’s chair, facing the business end of a drill.
Instead of an alcohol-based mouthwash that’s contributing to the acid erosion of your teeth, you should use a xylitol mouthwash instead. There’s a reason we keep beating the xylitol drum around here -- Unlike alcohol, xylitol has been shown to actively increase your body’s natural salivary response, helping you to combat harmful, cavity-causing oral bacteria and reduce plaque production overall.
#4 - Use The Right Tools For The Job
You wouldn’t try to dig a hole with a screwdriver.
Your teeth are powerful tools, and they can last a lifetime if you’re smart with how you use them.
Many of us have developed bad habits that over time can cause significant damage to our teeth. If you want them to last a lifetime, avoid using your teeth to:
- Bite your fingernails.
- Chew on ice.
- Break, tear, or cut anything other than your food.
It may not seem like a big deal at the time, but remember that any physical wear and tear on your teeth is likely to be permanent.
#5 - Pay Attention To How Often You Eat!
It may not seem that significant, but when you eat may be just as important as what you eat.
The primary source of damage to your teeth is acid. Your body has a natural defense against tooth-dissolving acid - saliva. Once you’ve introduced something acidic into your mouth, your saliva gets to work rebalancing and repairing the damage.
However, it takes about 30 minutes for your mouth to return to a normal levels after exposure to acid. You know that guy in your office that keeps a 64-oz tub of diet soda on his desk all day long? He’s wreaking havoc on his teeth, re-introducing acid and starting that 30 minute recovery process over again every time he takes a sip.
To protect your smile from tooth-eating acid, limit food intake (especially acidic foods like tomatoes, citrus fruits, soda, and coffee) to your normal mealtimes. When you do eat, rinse out your mouth with water. Then, chew some xylitol gum or mints to minimize the amount of exposure your teeth have to acid.
These first 5 tips have been all about what not to do to keep your teeth in good shape. Tip #6, however, is all about what you should be doing that you’re not. If you really want to kick your oral hygiene into high gear, there’s one last easy trick you should be using.