You brush your teeth to get rid of germs and bacteria in your mouth, but did you know you may be introducing more into it than you’re clearing away? If your toothbrush sits out in the open, especially near a sink or a toilet, you’re probably using a contaminated one.
Every time you flush the toilet, moisture droplets can become airborne. The contaminants in that spray can reach as high as 10 inches and spread to any surface in between. That means your toothbrush, minding its own business in a cup in the corner, is susceptible to nasty bacteria and viruses. The bottom line: close the lid before you flush, store it somewhere that is protected like a drawer, or move it farther away from the toilet.
The corner perch is dangerous every time you wash your hands as well. Walk into any public restroom and you’ll notice how much water and soap gets splashed around when hands are washed. That same mess is sprinkling around your sink and onto your brush.
Don’t Even Think About It
If you feel sharing a toothbrush isn’t a big deal, try again: the average mouth has up to 200 types of bacteria in it, and that’s after scrubbing. Your toothpaste is also a great source for sharing germs. Each time you wipe the paste onto your brush, you are pressing on material from the previous person’s toothbrush. To keep everyone healthier, especially if someone is sick, give everyone their own tube.
Get Some Air
Covering you toothbrush may seem like the only recourse. While keeping it protected is a good idea, don’t smother it. Avoid using plastic caps or containers, like travel cases, because the brush will stay wet and mold can grow. Instead, try putting it away in a cabinet or drawer so it can be shielded and dry out.
Brushing your teeth is supposed to be good for your health, but introducing germs can do the opposite. Taking a few simple steps can help you prevent dodgy microbes from going into your mouth.
Now that the hottest part of summer is here, you might be thinking about cooling off with some of your favorite warm-weather treats. In addition to barbecues and swimming, summer is a time when many people love to indulge in some sugary confections. Unfortunately these treats might be doing you and your children more harm than good, especially if you are not being careful about keeping up with proper oral care. Here are a few summer treats to skip, and some better options to consider.
Popsicles and Shaved Ice
Before you reach for that flavored popsicle or head to the local shaved ice shack, it’s important to understand how these treats could be harming your teeth. Both are often loaded with sugars (the latter is made with frozen water, but covered in a sugary syrup for flavor), which eat away at the outer layer of tooth enamel, encourage bacteria growth, and lead to cavities. In addition, since they are both very cold and potentially hard, biting or chewing on these treats could lead to chipped teeth or severe pain from cold sensitivity.
Instead, reach for a bowl of fresh fruit out of the refrigerator, which can help satisfy your craving for something sweet with a little natural sugar, and the cold will help satisfy your craving for something cool on a hot summer day.
What’s more fun that heading to the ice cream shop on a warm summer day? Like popsicles and shaved ice, ice cream is also loaded with sugar and can cause sensitivity and pain from the sugar as well as the cold temperatures. People in the U.S. already consume two to three times the amount of sugar recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA)—kids consume on average 32 teaspoons (tsp) per day, adults consume 22 tsp, and the AHA recommends no more than 9.5 tsp, so adding a daily ice cream treat might be increasing sugar intake to potentially harmful levels.
Instead, try buying sugar-free or low-sugar ice cream, and skip the toppings like caramel or syrup. If you do indulge a little in ice cream, try to eat it immediately following a regular meal (the extra saliva in your mouth can help rinse the sugar from your teeth) or brush your teeth within about 10 minutes of finishing to remove any lingering sugar.
Sodas and Sports Drinks
In the warm weather months many kids and adults participate in sports teams and outdoor activities, and you or your kids might be reaching for a sports drink after a long workout or intense game to help rehydrate. Keep in mind that many of these sports drinks have high sugar content, and when you drink them straight from the bottle that liquid comes in direct contact with your teeth. Many sodas also have the added problem of high acid levels that eat away at tooth enamel.
Instead of sugary sports drinks and sodas, reach for water when you feel thirsty. If you do decide to drink a soda or a sports drink, drink through a straw to limit tooth exposure as much as possible. Also try to drink soda only during meal times, rather than sipping on it throughout the day and extending the time your teeth are exposed.
What to Feed Kids
Without the structure of being in school, you might find that kids are spending a lot more time snacking throughout the day. Try limiting their intake of sugars and instead having some healthy snacks ready, such as:
- Protein snacks like nuts, cheese, and turkey
- Vegetables like celery and carrot sticks
- Fruits like apple or orange slices, bananas, berries, and grapes
- Popcorn and pretzels (go easy on the butter and salt)
- Plenty of cold water for when kids get thirsty—add some fresh lemons, limes, or cucumbers to the water to enhance the flavor
For more tips on healthy snacking that is good for your teeth and your overall health, talk to a dentist today. If you don’t have a dentist, visit the Dental Clinic at Roseman University for affordable dental care in the Salt Lake valley.