We all know the importance of brushing our teeth after each meal to help lessen the risk of developing cavities. If you’re on the go a lot like me, you know that sometimes there’s not a sink and toothbrush to be found after every meal or snack you eat. So what can we do to take care of our teeth when we are without a toothbrush and toothpaste while on the go?
The worst thing you can do to freshen your breath after a meal at a restaurant is to dip into the bowl of mints on your way out or eat the chocolate the waitress hands you with the bill. These are likely not sugarless and will do more harm to your teeth than good. Eating a sugary treat without brushing afterward gives the sugar a chance to sit on your teeth for an extended period of time and cause potential damage (a.k.a. cavities).
The American Dental Hygienists’ Association (www.adha.org) recommends using products that are “sugarless and alcohol-free and contain antibacterial agents noted for their effectiveness at controlling oral malodor” (oral malodor=bad breath). So what’s a girl to do if she can’t access her toothbrush and toothpaste after a meal or sugary snack? The ADHA offers some excellent tips on their website including:
- “Rinsing your mouth with water.” This is more helpful than choosing to do nothing after eating if you can’t brush your teeth. The water will help dislodge any food particles trapped on or in between your teeth.
- “Chewing a piece of sugarless gum.” The gum itself will help dislodge any pieces of food stuck in your teeth but more importantly, the ADHA explains that chewing sugarless gum stimulates your saliva flow and your saliva is “nature’s own cleanser.”
- “Snacking on celery, carrots, or apples.” The ADHA explains that these food items “tend to clear away loose food and debris during the chewing process.”
The best way to protect your teeth from decay is to eat a balanced diet. Your diet affects the health of your teeth. Stop and think about how much sugar you eat in a typical day. You may think you don’t have much but you have to remember to include any sugary coffee drinks, soda pop or candy you eat. We’ve all fallen victim to the candy dish when the 4:00 p.m. sleepiness sets in to help revive ourselves. If you pop in a piece of candy and then don’t brush your teeth, you’re leaving them open to sugar attacks. Your enamel will suffer from repeated attack.
There are products available on the market to make caring for your teeth on the go a little easier. Colgate® has a product called the Wisp® which is a tiny, portable and disposable toothbrush prefilled with toothpaste. This makes brushing your teeth in your car, for example, a breeze.
You can also find sugarless gum in a variety of flavors today. If you get that craving for candy but don’t want to have the extra sugar, try popping a piece of sugarless gum instead. There’s even sugarless gum available in flavors like mint chocolate chip ice cream and strawberry shortcake! Who knew! You can try to satisfy your craving without any harm to your teeth or waistline!
Being a busy person should not be an excuse for not taking good care of your smile. You should still visit your dentist for an exam once every 6 months. There are things you can do to clean your teeth without a toothbrush and next time you’re out and about and have a snack or meal, why not try one of the tips mentioned here. Your smile will thank you!
Bright Side Dental is a dental group with locations in Sterling Heights, Livonia, Canton, and Royal Oak, Michigan. Visit www.BrightSideDental.com.