This is a guest post by Suzanne, a dental industry writer from Glasgow.
It’s no secret we’re busier than ever, in between long commutes and long working hours it can seem there’s a serious lack of down time when we can relax and take care of ourselves.
In fact, two thirds of us are now working more hours each week compared to 2015.
When you think of those with poor oral hygiene it’s unlikely you’ll immediately think of young professionals though these are the people at risk of neglecting their mouths thanks to their schedules.
It has recently been discovered that a quarter of British adults don’t brush their teeth the recommended amount of twice per day and worryingly, in the last ten years there’s been research undertaken linking oral health to illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Our busy lives are leaving us short on time, could it be that we’re simply too busy to take care of our dental health properly?
In an age where we are so short of time what can we do to reduce the likelihood of decay and the other negative health impacts it can lead to?
Tooth Decay Explained
Tooth decay is caused when a bacterium that is produced in the mouth softens the enamel protecting our teeth.
Unsurprisingly, thanks to the availability of convenience food and drink sugar is today’s biggest tooth decaying offender. This is thanks to its ability to speed up the production of acid in the mouth.
Today we consume more sugar than ever with one 330ml can of regular fizzy juice containing 35g – or almost nine teaspoons of sugar.
Signs of tooth decay
Early tooth decay might not cause any pain initially, but if plaque continues to build it can lead to dental caries, which are holes in the teeth.
- Toothache and sensitivity.
- Varying levels of pain when eating or drinking.
- Noticeable holes in the teeth.
- Discolouration of the teeth.
- Bad breath.
A healthy mouth isn’t just important to our physical wellbeing, but it has an effect on our psyche too.
It’s been proven that smiling releases endorphins, but those who suffer from decay may miss the opportunity to communicate in this way due to lack of confidence.
Poor oral health is also seen to be detrimental to our careers in a study by the British Dental Association discovered that 62% of those asked felt that people with visibly decayed teeth would be less likely to be successful at securing a job role and 60% believe it could reduce their promotion prospects.
Jamie Newlands of an award winning dental implant practice in Glasgow explains the rise of poor oral health in young professionals:
“Millennial professionals visit with their confidence shaken due to decay, many people don’t realise just how important oral health is until it’s too late”
How can I prevent tooth decay on the go?
Change your snacking habits
As we know, sugar causes damage to teeth and constantly grazing doesn’t give our body enough time to produce saliva to wash the acid away.
Saliva will neutralise the mouth, but this takes almost an hour so rather than snacking constantly, aim to eat three to four times.
For those who are forced to eat on the go, swap sugary snacks for calcium rich items like cheese and nuts.
Drink through a straw
If you’re partial to swigging on fizzy drinks, it would be unfair to ask you to ditch the habit altogether, but drinking through straws can help limit the chance of tooth decay and staining.
Place the straw towards the back of the mouth so as to avoid the liquid coming into contact with teeth. Do this with:
- Fruit juice
- Fizzy drinks
Chew Sugar Free Gum
Chewing on sugar free gum after meals is a great way to stimulate saliva production. This neutralises and dilutes the acid that lingers in your mouth after it break downs the food you’ve eaten.
Be careful not to chew on coloured chewing gums because these can contribute to the staining of the teeth and acid procution.
Floss in a Flash
Typically it’s not convenient to brush your teeth during a working day but carrying a handy roll of dental floss means you can clean your teeth and gums without the need of an elaborate ceremony involving a toothbrush and toothpaste for bad breath.
You can floss when at the traffic lights or keep some stashed in your desk to clean after lunch. It can be tricky to get the hang of at first, but after some practice it will be second nature and a mirror won’t be needed.
Ditch Destructive Habits
Image Image Courtesy: NedoB/BigStock.com
Busy professionals can often turn to cigarettes as a form of stress relief, but tobacco interferes with the production of saliva which helps wash away corrosive acid.
Opt for nicotine patches or sugar free relief gums to help with cravings.
It’s worth noting that e-cigarettes have not been fully studied though as they deliver nicotine it’s assumed they have a negative impact on oral health.
Alcohol is also known to erode the surface on the teeth, so for those who enjoy a pub lunch or a celebratory drink on Friday consumption should be limited to the recommended daily allowance.
- Do not regularly drink more than 14 units a week.
- Consumption should be spread over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week.
What’s more, it’s estimated that heavy drinkers and smokers have an alarming 38 times increased risk of developing mouth cancer than people who neither drink nor smoke.
Prevent Tooth Decay Long-term
Adding these small changes into your daily life can help prevent decay as part of a compressive oral hygiene routine, including brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and a yearly visit to your dentist will pin point any concerns you have in order to keep your teeth, gums and mouth in optimal health.
Luckily, for those who are concerned about early stages of tooth decay you can reverse the damage by making small changes to your diet and sugar intake. This will increase the strength of your teeth allowing you to resist decay.
Those who suffer decay may not feel they can smile freely and can suffer from low self-esteem due to this.
By following these tips for busy professionals you will be able to keep a healthy mouth that isn’t affected by our ever demanding schedules.
About the author: Suzanne Vallance is a dental industry writer from Glasgow, Scotland, she represents the Berkeley Clinic a multi-award winning cosmetic dental practice.
Main image courtesy: GeorgeRudy/BigStock.com