Managing Wellness

Oral Health: 5 Surprising Habits that Make Your Smile Shine

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Posted by June 27, 2016

You probably realize that regular dental visits and daily brushing routines are essential for proper oral health. But did you know that certain health and wellness habits — like regular exercise and getting plenty of sleep — also have positive impacts on your teeth and gums? Here are five surprising tips that make your smile shine.

1. Destress

A stressful lifestyle can cause serious problems for your teeth in more ways than one. According to the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine, you’re more likely to clench your jaw and grind your teeth when you’re stressed. This can cause a painful and sore jaw, headaches and unnecessary wear and tear on your teeth. UCLA recommends yoga, meditation, tai chi, massage and deep breathing exercises as destressing techniques to maintain a healthy smile. Yoga also improves your overall posture so your jaw doesn’t hang forward or backward as much and become painful.

2. Tea

You may have heard that drinking antioxidant-rich tea may have numerous health benefits — such as weight control and reduced risks of liver and heart disease — but many people don’t associate tea with improved oral health. However, a 2013 review published in a leading industry magazine found that compounds in tea have antibacterial properties, inhibit acid production and help prevent cavities. Another 2012 article published in Dental Research Journal found that drinking two to four cups of white tea daily is beneficial for oral health and helps prevent cavities. Polyphenols found in green and black tea help fight plaque-forming bacteria.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric, also known as curcumin, is an herb with antioxidant properties. Incorporating this herb into your daily routine appears to offer oral-health benefits. A 2013 review published in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine found that turmeric may play a role in treating oral cancers, and rubbing turmeric on your teeth and gums provides relief from gum inflammation, gum disease, and toothaches. Authors of this review suggest making turmeric paste to use topically by mixing together one teaspoon of turmeric, one-half teaspoon of salt and one-half teaspoon of mustard oil. Turmeric is also available as powdered or liquid supplements; for adults, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends a dosage of 400 to 600 milligrams of turmeric powder three times daily. Always check with your doctor before taking dietary supplements.

4. Vitamin D

Did you know that getting your daily dose of vitamin D is also beneficial for your smile? Many U.S. adults do not get enough vitamin D, but this essential nutrient is a must for healthy teeth and gums. The Journal of the Tennessee Dental Association reports that vitamin D deficiency is associated with gum disease, decreased bone mass and tooth loss. Eating vitamin D-rich foods (such as salmon, milk, yogurt and egg yolks), taking vitamin D supplements or exposing your skin to sunlight are ways to meet your vitamin D requirements. Be sure to use sunscreen when you’re out in the sun for long periods of time.

5. Sleep

Believe it or not, getting plenty of sleep is essential when it comes to oral health. According to one review from 2014, sleep deprivation increases cravings for sweets, and higher added sugar intakes boost your risk for cavities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adults get seven to eight hours of sleep nightly.

In addition to brushing, flossing and regular dental visits, certain wellness behaviors — like getting a good night’s sleep, eating right, working out, and staying relaxed — are just as important for a healthy-looking smile.

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