8 ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy

in Oral Care

Caring for your teeth and gums out of a hat is a path you do not want to follow.

Your healthy smile will take a lifetime of care. And you better prepare with some handy and easy-to-follow tips and tricks that will help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

That's where we come in. We've put together a guide to help you on the way to your healthy smile, so you don't have to spend all your free time googling. You're welcome.

1. Use natural remedies

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 88% of all countries depend on traditional medicine for their primary healthcare needs. Many traditional medicine resources are part of our daily life and environment and are still a mainstay for communities worldwide. 

Baking Soda

If you're looking for a fluoride-free option for your teeth cleaning routine or a teeth-whitening alternative, baking soda may be your way to go. 

Sodium bicarbonate has antibacterial powers that may help prevent oral fungal infection, known as oral thrush. A 2009 study found that baking soda is not the most effective disinfectant for Candida albicans, but it's a “viable alternative.”

Can baking soda possibly be the most accessible teeth-whitening alternative? Sodium bicarbonate has natural whitening properties, and adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to your toothpaste can effectively remove stains and whiten teeth, as suggested by various studies.

Another well-known use of baking soda is as a tooth cleaner. In toothpaste, baking soda can reduce the build-up of plaque and help prevent gum disease. Brush your teeth once or twice a day with baking soda, or choose toothpaste that contains sodium bicarbonate.

Baking soda is especially recommended for people who suffer from acid reflux since chronic acid reflux affects the acidity level in the mouth.

When that happens, the acidity in your mouth creates an environment for sugars and bacteria to thrive, leading to enamel erosion, and making teeth susceptible to damage, discolouration and decay. 

Baking soda is alkaline, neutralising the acidity and helping regulate your mouth's PH. It prevents tooth decay but also helps remineralise the enamel. Dissolve half a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water to make an effective mouth rinse, and try it yourself. 


Sumac (Rhus coriaria) has a long history of holistic healing benefits and is particularly powerful as a teeth-cleaning, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent.

With such properties, sumac is an effective agent for tooth infections and periodontitis by reducing bacteria and biofilm formation in the mouth.

Research on sumac has shown its antimicrobial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, attributed to the active ingredients, like tannins, polyphenols, flavonoids, organic acids, essential oils, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins.

The Ozarks used smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) as a chewing stick for teeth cleaning by stripping the bark off a thin twig and massaging the gums.

Another tissue-healing herb is oak bark.

Oak Bark

Oak bark (Quercus alba) was used for medicinal purposes throughout history as an astringent for bleeding gums and tooth decay. It can be used as a mouthwash to prevent gingivitis or a tooth powder to strengthen enamel and prevent cavities. 

The lack of research on the use of oak bark in humans leaves no recommended dosage, but according to the European Medicines Agency, 20 grams of oak bark boiled in 4 cups (1 litre) of water is the recommended dosage for external use like mouth rinses and gargling.

How does it work? Oak bark is astringent, containing not just tannin but also calcium that strengthens the periodontal fibres and helps teeth stay firm in their sockets. Swish the rinse throughout your mouth, and then spit it out.

Other common herbs used in dental treatments include chamomile, peppermint, red clover, rosemary, thyme, yarrow, myrrh, sanicle, violets, wintergreen, prickly ash, tree tea oil and shepherd’s purse.

2. Change your toothbrush regularly

We throw away old food, donate clothes, and replace beauty products, but when was the last time you changed your toothbrush?

Your toothbrush is your first defence against gum disease bacteria, tooth decay, and bad breath. Straight bristles easily navigate the smaller spaces in your mouth, effectively removing old food and bacteria that can collect around the bases of your teeth.

The longer you use your toothbrush, the less effective it's in removing plaque and bacteria as bristles break down from everyday wear and tear.

You know it's time to change your toothbrush when the bristles look frayed, fan out, or dark.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends replacing a manual toothbrush every three to four months. But if you can and feel like changing your toothbrush every two months, you might notice better results.

If you use an electric toothbrush, you will need to replace the head sooner, like every month, because powered toothbrushes have shorter bristles that tend to wear out quicker.

3. Use toothpaste with fluoride

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral you find in the soil, rocks, and water. It's commonly added to toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay and remineralise your teeth and bones, which store about 99% of them. 

In many countries, it's added to the community water supply. The Americal Dental Association reports that fluoride in water prevents at least 25% of tooth decay in all ages, even with widespread public access to fluoride from other sources, like fluoride toothpaste.

However, many people are concerned about the potential harm from excessive fluoride intake since too much fluoride can pose health risks.

Although water fluoridation is controversial, the amounts contained in toothpaste are generally safe if you use the toothpaste as advised.

Different kinds of toothpaste contain different amounts of fluoride found on the tube in parts per million (ppm). The NHS advises that toothpaste containing 1 350 to 1 500 ppm fluoride is the most effective for adults and children over seven when used twice daily.

4. Add a water flosser to your teeth-cleaning routine

Flossing is an essential step in your oral hygiene practice. While standard floss is the most accessible and known, water flossers are the most effective, especially if you have dental implants, bridges, crowns, and braces. 


Permanent prostheses keep food debris between the restoration and your gum tissues, but a standard flosser can not floss around, under and between these spaces like normal. A water flosser can easily clean these hard-to-reach surfaces, reducing the chances of gum disease and tooth decay.

Water flossing is safe and effective around all dental restorations, and you can smoothly work it from one tooth to the next.

5. Use a mouthguard in case of bruxism

Bruxism is a common condition where you are tooth grinding and jaw clenching, which happens while you are sleeping, and you have no control over it. Over time, bruxism leads to excessive wearing down of the enamel, thus leading to teeth sensitivity and damage.

Sleep bruxism can happen to anyone, and if your jaw or neck feels sore after waking up, you may be one of the millions of people suffering from it. It's often associated with stress, going through a rough period, and potentially sleep apnea, and in many cases, a specific cause is never to be found.

If you suffer from bruxism, you might not spot the aftermath on your teeth, but your dentist will. In this case, you will be advised to wear a mouthguard at night, a plastic dental appliance designed for you that fits over the top of your teeth.

The mouthguard will prevent your teeth from grinding, chipping or cracking, which may require extensive restorative dental treatments to fix them in the long haul.

While mouthguards offer a play-defence solution to teeth grinding, they do not get to the root cause. Identifying the cause of bruxism can solve the core issue and save your teeth.

6. Avoid sugary, high-acid drinks and foods

Acidic foods and drinks affect natural teeth, and chronic exposure often leads to attrition, erosion, abrasion, cavities and decay.

When you consume anything from candies, snacks, fizzy drinks, and juices to soft and sports beverages, the contained sugars mix with the bacteria in your mouth to form acid, decreasing the pH in the oral cavity and on the tooth surface.

According to studies, ideally, the pH of saliva lies within the range of 5.5 – 6.5. A threshold level of pH 5.5 is accepted below, which starts the development of dental caries. Repeated exposure to acidic drinks changes the intraoral pH to below the critical pH (pH5.5).

Other studies show that after drinking acid drinks, intraoral pH (pH 6.8) decreases from below pH5 to pH4 within 2 to 3 minutes. Pepsi Cola, Diet Pepsi Cola, Coca-Cola and Diet Coke leech calcium out of teeth, softening and eroding enamel.

7. Visit your dentist for teeth cleaning and polishing regularly

When we say regularly, we mean at least two times a year.

That gives your dentist a chance to look at your teeth and spot if there's anything that needs to be addressed, like a cavity or gingivitis in an earlier stage.

With little research and comparison between people who clean and polish their teeth once every six months with people who visit their dentist less frequently, it's debatable how much is too much. 

The golden six-month standard might be the optimal case for some, but not so much for people at a higher risk for periodontitis. The frequency of your visits is best determined in conversation with your dentist, who will be able to advise you based on your specific risk factors for gum disease and tooth loss.

8. Visit your dentists for dental check-ups

We are all told that we should visit the dentist every six months. Whether those biannual check-ups are necessary is a matter of your case, biology, lifestyle, oral hygiene habits, overall well-being, assessment of disease levels and risk of or from dental disease. 

How often should you visit the dentist to keep your teeth and gums healthy? There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

Nice, which guides the National Health Service in England and Wales, recommends that children should have a dental check-up at least once a year because their teeth can decay faster. Adults without problems can wait as long as two years and even longer if they have shown commitment to oral health.

Where does this leave the rest of us? Well, if you don't have any problems, dental implants or other prostheses, you can probably wait a little longer than six months between visits. But keeping a regular dental appointment schedule is key in preventing more serious problems and protecting your oral health.

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