I had a frank conversation with my dentist the other day, and he told me something I’d never heard from a dentist before.
I was asking him why so much of dentistry seem to be focused around damage control rather than prevention. Most of the well-known dental procedures (filling cavities, root canals, placing crowns) happen quite a bit after something has gone wrong.
I’ll never forget what he said next.
He told me our teeth aren’t really designed to last forever. They start wearing out the second they peek out from our gums. What’s more, he said that the majority of dental work involves what is essentially damage control: your dentist knows that your teeth are going to give out sooner or later, and his job is not so much to try and save them as it is to just keep them chewing as long as possible.
I was shocked. I’d never before heard dentistry described in such dire terms. In fact, I’d been led to believe that if I could just do a better job brushing, all these cavities would simply go away.
It got me thinking, though. Most people only get two sets of teeth to last their entire lives, and the first set tends to fall out entirely by age 13. With an average life expectancy of 78 years in the US, that means that most Americans are trying to get their last set of teeth to last a whopping 65 years or more!
It’s clear that “brush nightly, floss when you remember” simply isn’t cutting it. None of us want to spend our twilight years in-dentured, which is why I’ve put together this simple list of 3 easy tools to keep your chompers chomping for decades to come.
#1 - Chuck that Alcohol-Based Mouthwash
The first step is to throw that alcohol-based mouthwash in the trash as soon as possible.
You might think that I’m just trying to make sure you don’t get a bad breathalyzer read at a DUI checkpoint. While that is a great side benefit, the real issue is that all that alcohol actually does more harm than good for your smile.
The first problem (yes, there’s a list of them!) with most alcohol-based mouthwashes is they’re highly acidic. All that acid is highly damaging to the enamel in teeth, which means that you’re actually causing additional damage with every swish of these alcohol-based mouthwashes.
We’ll talk more about acid and its negative effects later in this article, but the short version is that it’s really, really bad for your teeth.
Second, all that alcohol dries out the saliva in your mouth. That may not sound like a big deal, but saliva is your body’s natural mechanism for neutralizing tooth-dissolving acid. What’s more, the alcohol in these mouthwashes also has a temporary effect in suppressing your ability to make more saliva. That means you’ve not only introduced a whole bunch of acid into your mouth, but you’ve dramatically dialed back your body’s ability to counteract it.
That’s right, your alcohol-based mouthwash may actually be helping to cause cavities instead of preventing them!
The best thing to do is to switch over to an alcohol-free and xylitol-based oral rinse instead, since that will actually combat harmful cavity-causing oral bacteria. At the very least, though, do yourself a favor and chuck that mouthwash!
#2 - Watch When You Eat
You’ve probably read a million things about the stuff you should and shouldn’t eat.
Don’t panic, I’m not here to tell you to shift to yet another diet plan.
Instead, I recommend you give some thought to not what, but when you’re eating and drinking during the day.
Exposure to acid causes damage to your teeth and, eventually, leads to cavities. Ultimately, this means that if you want to avoid the business end of a dental drill, you’ll want to think about how to limit acid’s access to your teeth. That’s why thinking about when you eat is so important.
You know that woman in your office that spends all day sipping diet soda from a 124-ounce tub? Her teeth are just swimming in an acid bath all day long, even though her drink is sugar-free. The odds are good she comes away from the dentist’s office with more cavities than most folks.
Look, I’m not going to ask you to give up your daily coffee and snack routine, but if you can consolidate your eating times to a shorter window, your teeth will be better for it. Even reducing the drinking time for your coffee to just a few minutes instead of sipping it constantly throughout the morning can have a huge additive impact on your oral health.
If it helps, imagine those frequent snacks between meals as a supervillain looking to lower your pearly-white calcium crusaders into a vat of acid, except that this time there’s no way they’ll be able to break themselves free after the commercial break.
The less time spent exposed to food-borne acids, the better.
However, we all know that everyone has to eat some of the time, so my next tip involves how you can combat the acid attacks that inevitably arrive whenever you do eat.
#3 - Put Xylitol to Work Fighting Acid
Alright, this tip is the best and easiest way to keep your chompers cavity-free well into old age, so buckle up.
Chewing a xylitol-sweetened gum or breath mint immediately after acid exposure from meals, snacks, and sodas will dramatically reduce the damage dealt to your teeth by acid.
How does it work?
Well, I won’t bore you with all the boring science stuff here, but the short answer is that xylitol has been proven to combat and remove harmful acid-producing oral bacteria from your smile. What’s more, a sugar-free, xyiltol-powered chewing gum or mint ramps up your body’s natural defense against acid attacks, saliva, ensuring that your teeth never spend more than a few minutes in contact with acid after eating.
There are a handful of different xylitol-sweetened products on the market, but we definitely prefer Epic Gum & Mints.
Ok, it’s confession time: we’re the folks that make and sell Epic Gum & Mints, so we’re definitely more than a little biased here.
The good news is that you don’t have to take our word for it. Just ask any of our smiling customers or dental professional partners. There’s a reason dentists all over the country are recommending we’re the folks that make and sell Epic Gum & Mints to their patients every day of the week: we have more xylitol per piece than any other brand,
And, of course, you can always just give Epic a try yourself. If you’re unhappy with your purchase for any reason, we’ll refund your money, no questions asked.