Oral health indicates overall health! When we talk about oral health, teeth and gums form major part of it. Getting stronger gums and teeth is more than the so-called ‘Oral Health!’
Why is it important to take care of your teeth and gums?
The mouth is way more than a pretty smile! Apparently, your teeth simply convey your appearance. Missing teeth or discolored teeth make you look older than your real age. Even a minor infection in the gums recedes gums which is not at all healthy. While teeth don’t appear longer and healthy, they are future indication of tooth loss. Gums hold teeth in place. Any damage to the gums literally damages the teeth.
When you don’t take care of your teeth and gums, the following conditions may arise:
- You cannot show up your beautiful smile when you have a crooked or broken teeth
- You suffer from bad mouth odor
- You feel intensely sick when your gums bleed and suffer from inflammation
- You may not be able to eat your food properly due to tooth ache
- You suffer from gums recession
- Finally tooth decay happens and you may lose your teeth
Any oral problem may trouble your daily life. The key to avoid oral problems is getting stronger teeth and gums.
What is Oral Health?
Oral Health can be defined as absence of active disease in the mouth. Oral health is associated with many health conditions. A strong focus towards oral health is more about keeping the gums and teeth healthy and strong. It is the gateway to the overall health. To ensure your oral health is good for not only teeth and gums but for your overall health. You should focus on getting stronger gums and teeth to ensure ideal oral health!
Oral health usually comes down to two major elements:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day
- Scheduling a visit to a dentist at least twice a year
However, getting stronger gums and teeth needs more than these two elements.
According to the American Dental Association, brushing, flossing as well as visiting a dentist is something easier that everyone can do. However, these are not sufficient for a healthy smile and avoid the gum diseases. So, let’s discuss how to get strong gums and teeth.
How to get strong gums and teeth?
Knowingly or Unknowingly, a lot of habits affect the gums and teeth. The way of brushing, the foods you eat, not caring for healthy and hygienic dental practices, poor nutrition, your habits, etc. all affect your teeth and gums.
Getting stronger gums and teeth is a matter of habit and some good practices for oral care. You can do the following to get strong gums and teeth:
- Identify the bad habits that affect your gums and teeth and eliminate them
- Follow healthy practices to preserve and strengthen your gums and teeth
- Meet the nutritional requirements for strong gums and teeth
- Use home remedies for gum and teeth problems so that they remain stronger
Let us begin with some important dental habits, do’s and don’ts to get stronger gums and teeth.
Eliminate Unhealthy Habits that affect your gums and teeth
Most of you hear it frequently. Brush your teeth, don’t eat too many chocolates, avoid eating desserts, don’t drink cold drinks, etc. All these factors affect your teeth.
Beyond these, there are a lot more habits that affect the gums and teeth. The first step to getting strong gums and teeth is identifying the unhealthy and worst habits that affect the teeth and eliminating those habits.
Para functional Habits that Affect the Gums and Teeth
Parafunctional activities are nothing but involuntary actions or activities of your body parts that become a habit. In most cases, the majority of parafunctional activities are more likely to impact physical and emotional health. You need to avoid dental parafunctional habits.
Avoid Bruxism – Teeth Grinding
Some of you may not aware what Bruxism is! Bruxism is teeth grinding, involuntary habitual grinding of the teeth. When you are angry or frustrated you may grind your teeth. Some of you may unknowingly grind your teeth during sleep. Around 31 % of the world population suffer from bruxism. Sleep bruxism is more likely to be an outcome of a reaction to dream, frustration, hidden feelings, etc. Awaken bruxism is a direct reaction to something we cannot achieve or overcome.
Upper line and lower line of teeth comes into contact occasionally, for a short duration in a day. For instance, eating, talking, chewing gums, etc. Teeth grinding makes it more common, which is detrimental.
Teeth grinding certainly affect the teeth, reduces the length of the teeth and leads to tooth sensitivity. It could also damage the jaw line.
Say no to Thumb Sucking
Thumb sucking is apparently a bad habit! It is not only the kids, even some teens trail on this habit. Thumb sucking not just change the shape and structure of the tooth, but also leads to severe misalignment in the growth pattern of your jaw line.
Most of the children who had the habit of thumb sucking have protruded upper teeth line and receded lower line. Besides, the mouth is not aligned straight. They may suffer from crooked mouth with uneven jawline. Thumb sucking or even sucking fingers lead to gum infection when grown ups follow this habit.
Avoid Nail Biting
Although nail biting may be very common, it is a parafunctional activity developed due to certain factors. Nail biting can be a sign of stress, fear, anxiety and many other negative emotions. However, in a few instances, nail biting is associated with nothing! It has just become a habit. Pulling of the nails too hard damage the edges of the teeth, which affect their structure. Also, the microbes settled under the nails reach your stomach and lead to infection.
Apart from the above parafunctional habits, there other bad habits that may not let you get stronger gums and teeth.
Common Practices that Affect Gums and Teeth
There are few common practices seen in many people that affect the teeth as well as damage the gums.
Don’t use teeth as a tool
How many of you unscrewed the bottles with your teeth or used them to crack the nut shells, tear the packets, tightening the zip or even open your pencil boxes or lunch box?
Most of us have done it, at least one or twice, isn’t it? At least, we used teeth to tighten the zip of a bag and open the boxes at school! Teenage guys never care for an opener and use teeth for the purpose.
And a lot of us don’t have the patience to tear open a packet with a knife or a scissor. We just rip it off with teeth!
These are literally dangerous habits for your teeth and gums. It can hurt your gum and damage the structure of the teeth. A part of the teeth chipping away or cracks in the teeth affect the gums and may lead to root canal treatment.
Avoid Crushing Ice in your mouth
If you think ice is good for your teeth, change your opinion. In fact, ice is not healthy in many contexts. Drinking ice water or cold beverages may help you beat the heat, but crushing ice inside the mouth is detrimental to your teeth. Too much cold affect the tooth enamel and increases teeth sensitivity. Don’t eat ice cubes or crushed ice particles or chew it.
Don’t use toothpick often
Toothpicks are ubiquitous in every restaurant. It is even used in many homes regularly to remove the food particle stuck in the teeth. Although the intention of using toothpicks is good, using it too much or too often damages the gums. Toothpicks cause abrasion on the gums and lead to gum bleeding. It may also damage the base of the teeth and may lead to tooth decay. Instead of using a toothpick, you can rinse your mouth thoroughly to remove the food particles. If essential brush your mouth after meals.
Food and Food Habits that Affect the Gums and Teeth
There are certain foods that help strengthening the gums and teeth. Yet, there are a few foods and food habits that unknowingly affect your teeth and gums.
Sucking lemons are not good for tooth enamel
Many people love the taste of lemon juice squeezed over foods. A slice of fresh lemon always accompanies a glass of juice. If you are the one who love to suck the fresh lemons, you are damaging your teeth. The acidity of lemon corrode the teeth enamel and leads to sensitivity. It also affects the gums. Always dilute the lemon juice with water before having it.
Aerated drinks lead to tooth decay
Just like bones, teeth are also built with minerals. If you drink aerated drinks like sodas and colas often, it can rip off the minerals from your teeth. This condition is referred to as dental erosion. It can either lead to stained teeth or extreme tooth sensitivity. Avoid having such drinks.
Sticky foods are the worst nightmare
When we talk about nutritious foods, healthy snacking comes first! Nuts and dried fruits top the list of healthy snacks. However, some of the dry fruits are quite sticky. For instance, figs, raisins, etc. It is not just about dry fruits, there are many other sticky foods! Sticky foods can damage your teeth and cause infection in the gums as they stay longer on the teeth. If you eat dry fruits or candies, make sure to floss or rinse your mouth to get rid of the food stuck onto the teeth.
Having hot and cold foods
Teeth sensitivity happens commonly when you eat ice cream. While a few can enjoy many cups and tubs in a go, there are many who suffer from extreme sensitivity as the coldness damage the tooth enamel. Sipping hot beverages or eating very hot foods may also damage the gum tissues.
Cold foods affect your teeth whereas hot foods affect your gums and taste buds in the mouth. It is recommended not to eat extremely cold or hot foods and drinks if you want strong gums and teeth.
Avoid too much sugar
Too much sugar intake is directly linked with tooth decay. Tooth decay pulls the gums downwards and it leads to swelling and bleeding. Tooth decay if left untreated, can spread the infection to face and lead to a lot of complications. It is essential to cut down sugar intake at least for the sake of teeth!
Now a days, most of the people carry some hard candies in bags, pockets and wallets. Loaded with sugar, it gives instant energy. Although it is very useful for patients with low pressure and low sugar, too much sugar leads to tooth decay.
Sugary foods that are more likely to cause tooth decay include:
- Sugar coated gummy-candies
- Desserts cooked with sugar
- Jams, cakes, puddings, pastries and sugar coated biscuits
If you are looking for an alternative to meet the sugar or sweet cravings, eat fruits, honey and desserts cooked with jaggery or palm sugar.
Healthy Dental Practices for Strong Gums and Teeth
Here is the comprehensive list of healthy dental practices to get stronger gums and teeth.
Clean your Teeth and Gums the Right Way
Oral health, strong gums, healthy and bright teeth is all about cleaning the mouth in a right way.
Choose a right toothbrush
The key to strong teeth and gums is choosing the right toothbrush. Is it a big deal? Yes, it is. Selecting a toothbrush might be an easy task. Yet, the selection of a right toothbrush to preserve and strengthen your teeth and gums can be overwhelming. Buying an expensive brush makes no sense if the toothbrush doesn’t have promising features.
What to look for in a toothbrush?
- Right size – Large brushes may be difficult to handle and small brushes may be insufficient to clean your mouth. For adults, you can choose a half inch wide brush.
- Bristles – Bristles are hard, soft and medium. Just go for the soft bristled brush, which can be quite flexible to clean the teeth and gums without damaging the gums.
- Quality – Ask your dentist for a recommendation for a good toothbrush or look toothbrushes having the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Approval.
Brush your teeth
As mentioned earlier, brushing your teeth twice a day is the best policy to manage the teeth and gum health. Brushing the teeth regularly ensures the functionality of the teeth. With proper brushing, your gums and teeth can remain healthy with no traces of infections and cavities throughout your life.
How to brush, the right way?
- Brushing the teeth twice a day, early in the morning and night before sleep is mandatory.
- If possible, you can brush the teeth after meals too.
- Brush in circular motion and upside down. Don’t brush horizontally across the teeth line.
- Use the tip of the bristles to reach and clean in between the teeth. Don’t push the bristles too hard.
- Mildly brush all the chewing surfaces of the mouth. If not using your brush, clean teeth using your fingers and rinse your mouth.
- Brush at the inner part of the both upper and lower teeth line, to avoid tartar or plaque buildup.
- Brush for a minimum of 2 minutes to a maximum of 3 minutes.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after brushing.
- Don’t eat or drink anything for at least 15 minutes after brushing.
After brushing, you won’t feel like eating or drinking anything. So, drink water and have your coffee or other beverages later.
Care for your brush
Equivalent to the importance of brushing, you should take care of your toothbrush, the tool that protects your oral health.
- Change your brush once in every two months.
- Don’t share the tooth brush.
- Wash and rinse the brush before and after brushing teeth.
- Place the toothbrush upright.
- Don’t cover the bristles and let it dry out. Damp bristles increase the risk of infection. (Don’t use bristle cover)
- Change your brush when you catch cold or sore throat or fever.
Flossing and how to do this the right way
Flossing once a day or once in two days ensures that your teeth remain free from cavities and decay. However, inappropriate flossing may damage the gums.
You can choose nylon floss, which is relatively inexpensive. However, if you want to go easy and soft on flossing, you can choose monofilament floss, which is expensive.
- Floss the upper line first and move to the lower line.
- Hold one part of the floss in your thumb and the other part in your forefinger
- Gently glide the floss between the teeth. (always start from front upper teeth)
- Don’t insert the floss with force. Do it gently.
- Once the floss reaches the gum line, hold both ends firmly and gently rub the floss up and down.
- Make sure not to be faster and rub it away from the gums.
- Floss a tooth for a few seconds only.
- Use the fresh part of floss for every tooth.
If you find flossing isn’t your thing, don’t worry! Use your brush as a flossing tool. However, you may need very soft and thin bristled brush for the same.
Scrape your tongue
Tongue contains hundreds of taste buds enabling you relish various flavors. However, the same tongue is the powerhouse of germs as your mouth accumulates the microbial food particles. These can ruin your oral health. Scraping your tongue enhances the overall dental health and hygiene.
- Use a tongue scraper to remove the germs and debris once a day or once in two days.
- Preferably use a copper tongue scraper as it can eliminate bacterial infection effectively
- Just place the scraper on the tongue and gently bring it forward (just like wiping off)
- Don’t be too hard on scraping the debris, it can harm the tongue and damage the taste buds.
- Now, even toothbrush comes with a scraper. You may like to use one such toothbrush.
Massage the gums
Massaging the gums is an ancient practice! Gums are made of muscles and tissues. Massaging the gums improves blood circulation and keeps your gums healthy. It also enhances the oxygen and other nutrient absorption. Massaging gums also loosens the food particles deposited and enables easy removal of the same.
- After brushing the teeth, massage the gums in circular motion.
- Rinse the mouth with warm water.
Massaging leads to increased sensitivity of the teeth due to increased blood flow. You may find it a bit odd for a few days. However, to make your gums stronger, massage the gums daily.
Add fluoride to the dental routine
Fluoride is a natural mineral that aids in protecting the teeth, preventing as well as treating tooth decay. It helps in mineralization of the bones and make the teeth stronger.
- You can naturally increase the fluoride intake just by drinking water available from public water systems.
- Alternatively, you can use a toothpaste with fluoride or apply fluoride directly to your teeth to get stronger teeth. Fluoride concentrated toothpaste and mouthwash is available only through prescription.
Other Healthy Habits for Oral Care
Apart from cleaning your teeth and gums the right way, you should stick to some other practices as a part of oral care to help yourself enhance your oral health. You don’t need to specifically form any oral care regimen. Just tweak a few habits that enhances your oral health.
No smoking and no tobacco
When people talk to you, they look at your shoes and teeth! You need not have all white teeth that glitter like fluorescent bulb, but you shouldn’t also have stains on teeth. Avoid tobacco and smoking. Both are the major culprits that stain your teeth.
Nutrition for strong gums and teeth
Count on calcium
Concentrate on intake of calcium. A tooth is a just like your bone and it needs calcium. Calcium is essential for tooth density. A glass of milk every day boosts the strength of teeth. Also, it neutralizes the acid in your mouth.
Teeth require all nutrients required by your bones. Beyond calcium, it also needs copper, zinc, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. These minerals help in strengthening the bones.
According to American Dental Association, vitamin D prevents and delays tooth decay. In addition, your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. So, calcium without vitamin D has no power.
Diet and Nutrition for Gums and Teeth
When it comes to a healthy diet, the focus is eating a variety of foods. For gums and teeth, there are a few specifics to be adhered.
Foods to avoid
Cut down sugar intake
Limit the consumption of sugar. Frequent intake of sugar leads to tooth decay and causes cavities.
Reduce starchy foods
It is not possible to avoid starchy foods. Yet, reduce the quantity of starchy intake. Foods high in starch increase mouth acid, which affects the gums and enamel of the teeth.
Reduce the quantity and frequency of eating the sticky foods (there are a lot of unhealthy sticky foods like caramel, jelly, ham, etc.). If you eat sticky foods, make sure to drink a lot of water and rinse your mouth.
Alcohol and wine
Wine is good for health and moderately drinking alcohol is also acceptable. Yet, both wine and alcohol affect the teeth health and lead to damages. Stay away from alcohol consumption and wine.
Foods for strong gums and teeth
Bite the crunch
Eat a lot of crunchy foods (natural and fresh foods) like celery, cucumber, pineapple, apple, carrots, melons, etc. Eat an apple every day. It is a mouth cleanser and loosens up the plaques.
Include cheese in your diet as a part of lunch or snacks. Cheese is not only rich in calcium, but also triggers the secretion of saliva in the mouth.
Drink a lots of water
Water is essential for healthy and strong gums and teeth. It prevents dry mouth syndrome, which leads to bad odor. Drinking water rinses away the food particles stuck in the teeth.
Healthy Eating Habits
Chew your food
Chew your food and eat slowly. It enables secretion of saliva and enzymes in the mouth which is essential for healthy gums and teeth. More saliva means less bacterial build up. Chewing food also eases digestion!
Eat sweets when starting having meal
Eat sugary treats at the beginning of your meals and not at the end. When you eat food after sweets, your mouth will secret saliva and sugary treats or desserts are washed away with ease.
Mouth is not a mixer grinder
Snacking is healthy and essential too (only when having healthy snacks)! However, constant snacking like eating something very often is not good for your teeth and gums. Mouth is not a mixer grinder to chew and grind something constantly. Too much snacking produces less saliva than eating a meal and is unhealthy for teeth.
Assess your health and get appropriate treatment
There are a few health conditions associated with gums and teeth. Certain diseases affect the gum and teeth. So, treating those conditions help you maintain healthy and strong gums and teeth.
Address heartburn quickly
When you suffer from acidity or heartburn, the food won’t get digested soon. The acid from the stomach reaches the mouth through food pipe and affect your teeth. So, get rid of acidity as soon as you can.
Check your medications
If you are on certain medication, it may cause dry mouth and affect the gums. Make sure to discuss with your doctor about the medicines and their effect on oral care.
Sciatica and toothache
When you have a disc problem or suffer from sciatica (inflammation of the nerve that radiates pain from the base of the spine to the knee), it affects your teeth and gums, giving you toothache. In fact, sciatic pain can originate from various sources like herniated disc, pronated foot, upper cervical dysfunction. And don’t be surprised to know that dental or cranial distortion can also lead to sciatica.
Cold, sore throat, cough and sinus
A majority of health conditions that are associated with nose and throat also affect gums and teeth. Sinus infection leads to tooth pain and inflammation of the gums. Cold and cough buildup bacterium inside the mouth. Get rid of cold and cough as well as sinus problems if you want stronger gums and teeth.
Most of the diabetes patients suffer from cavities, tooth decay, gum bleeding and loss of teeth, all due to high glucose level in the body. Keep your sugar levels intact to avoid gum problems and tooth loss due to such conditions.
Home Remedies for Strong Gums and Teeth
Those who suffer from gum and teeth problems can try the following solutions to strengthen the gums and teeth. These solutions also address the gum problems.
Neem leaves to reverse gum problems
Chew baby neem leaves. It is one of the most powerful anti-bacterial ingredients which helps address a majority of gum problems. Neem leaves also kill the bacteria and virus in the stomach, which keeps your mouth free from infection.
Clove or clove oil to treat gum problems and toothache
When it comes to natural remedies for swelling of gums or toothache, clove serves as the best home remedy. Clove contains a lot of healing properties that reduces pain and inflammation in only a couple of hours.
- Just hold a clove pod near the molar teeth and swallow the juice with saliva.
- You can also massage the gums with clove oil. Just dab a few drops of clove oil (about 3 to 4 drops) and massage it on the gums. It braces the gums and strengthen the tissues.
- Or add a drop of clove oil to the toothpaste and brush your teeth.
Ginger promotes healthy gum tissues
Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb spice as well as a pain reliever. Have it in any way possible. Use it in your cooked dishes and salads etc.
- Chew raw ginger
- Not many can chew the raw ginger. So, combine sliced or grated ginger with honey and consume it to strengthen the tissues of gums.
- Or make some ginger tea and rinse your mouth with this after cooling it down to make it lukewarm.
Zap bacteria with onions
Yes, we know onions cause bad breath. However, there is nothing equally powerful than onions in destroying bacteria. Eating a slice of onion, won’t harm you as long as you brush your teeth afterwards and chew some mint leaves to get rid of foul smell.
Salt water rinse
It is always recommended to rinse your mouth with salt water to kill the bacteria and avoid infection.
- add 1/2 -1 tsp of salt to 1 glass of warm water
- Rinse your mouth with this water
- Do his twice a day
Oil Pulling – Heal your Gum and Whiten your Teeth Naturally
Oil pulling is an overlooked remedy to heal all the oral problems. It is an Ayurvedic technique practiced for ages. Oil pulling is nothing but swishing one or two tablespoons of oil in the mouth for 15 to 20 minutes. Oil pulling is a natural cleansing practice. It helps you get rid of all bacteria of mouth.
- It strengthens the gums and whitens the teeth.
- It addresses gum bleeding and stimulates proper blood and oxygen circulation in the gum tissues.
- It prevents bacterial build up.
- It treats and prevents the oral diseases
- In addition to oral care, oil pulling also act as a natural detox.
How to do oil pulling?
All you need is 2 tablespoons of edible oil. You can choose your favorite oil. It can be sesame oil, coconut oil, olive oil or sunflower oil. Sesame and coconut oil are very popular for oil pulling.
- Right after you wake up in the morning, put the oil in your mouth and swish it for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Initially do this for 1-2 minutes and gradually increase the time so that you can do it for maximum 20 minutes.
- Circulate the oil in your mouth. Let the oil spread all over mouth, the corners, in between the teeth and gums.
- Don’t gargle the oil as you might swallow it.
- Do it for a full 15 to 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, the oil will turn white and foamy. Spit the oil, rinse your mouth and brush your teeth (not necessary though). Don’t swallow the oil.
- Don’t drink anything (even water) for 15 minutes after brushing.
- Repeat it daily as long as you can.
A few things to note:
- Sesame oil and coconut oil can be tolerated well than other oils. These oils also contain a lot of anti-microbial properties than other oils.
- You may feel like vomiting in the initial two or three days of oil pulling. Don’t stop it, just tolerate it for a couple of days and you will be addicted soon!
- 20 minutes may appear too long. However, don’t spit it before (At least) 15 minutes. However, initially, do it for only a couple of minutes and increase the time over time.
Top Tips to Get Stronger Gums and Teeth in Kids
Start early! Focussing on developing healthy gums and teeth during childhood helps avoid gum and teeth problems as they grow.
- No thumb sucking! It is normal up to 3-5 years of age. If the child continues to suck thumb, visit a doctor and get it addressed.
- Massage the gums of the babies daily even before they grow teeth. Use a damp washcloth and massage the gums to clear the bacteria.
- Use baby toothbrush for kids and use a tiny bit of toothpaste to brush the teeth. You can put pea-sized toothpaste when the child turns three years.
- Use a fluoride based toothpaste to make the teeth stronger.
- Teach the child to learn how to spit soon after the little one turns two.
- No bottles at the bed time. Don’t let the babies sleep with a bottle in mouth as it leads to pitted or discolored teeth.
- Reduce feeding the kids with sweet drinks.
- Make sure to take your child to an oral care professional before they join the school.
Tips to care for your gums and teeth when you wear braces
Protruding teeth line is a major problem in teens. Many teens wear braces to align the teeth. Braces obstruct managing oral health and hygiene to a great extent. Moreover, the food particles can get stuck in the braces, which leads to tooth decay, cavities and gum infection. If you wear braces, you have to be extra careful to protect and strengthen the gums and teeth.
- Stick to tooth friendly diet, which means, eat foods low in acid. For instance, milk, water vegetables, water fruits like melon (other than citrus fruits), etc. Avoid vinegar, soft drinks, sauces and dips, etc.
- A big no to sticky foods, chewing gums, toffees, etc.
- Go easy on teeth. Don’t eat any hard foods. Avoid meat.
- Choose the brace friendly brushes, which are exclusively available for those who wear braces.
- Consider the braces as an additional layer of the teeth and brush the braces too.
- Rinse twice or thrice and use warm water to rinse.
Taking proper care of your gums and teeth and getting rid of dental issues as soon as they arise are the only ways to get strong gums and teeth.