In a fast-paced business world, people often don’t have time to stop for lunch, let alone take care of their teeth.
But dental professionals say it’s well worth carving out some minutes for your mouth during the busy day – every day.
“No matter how crazy your days are, you deserve excellent oral health and a beautiful, healthy smile,” says Dr. Nammy Patel, DDS (www.sfgreendentist.com), author of Age With Style: Your Guide To A Youthful Smile & Healthy Living. “But consistently neglecting your teeth and gums during long days in the office can be very costly both from a health and financial standpoint.
“Many people don’t realize there are lots of ways to take care of your teeth during the work hours, no matter how busy you are.”
Dr. Patel shares five on-the-go dental health tips:
- Keep water close. “Water neutralizes the acid in your mouth in addition to keeping you hydrated,” Dr. Patel says. “Too much acidity leads to enamel erosion, decay, cavities and gum disease.” She recommends drinking eight eight-ounce glasses per day, keeping a water bottle or water glass on your desk as a reminder.
- Store oral essentials at your desk. This means keeping a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss handy in a drawer. “After any meal or snack, our teeth and gums require attention to remove bacteria, and keeping these dental tools on hand will ensure you’re readily equipped,” Dr. Patel says. “Too many people go an entire work day without any oral care.”
- Snack on naturally cleansing foods. Eating on the run at work can lead to sugary snacks that compromise oral health. Dr. Patel recommends packing healthy items such as apples, carrots, celery and almonds. “Not only are these foods full of great vitamins and minerals for your teeth and body, they also naturally cleanse your teeth,” she says. “Crunchy snacks like these help scrape away food or plaque stuck on your teeth.”
- Sip beverages thoughtfully. Patel says it’s not just what we drink at work that affects our teeth, but how we drink certain beverages. She recommends keeping a reusable straw in your desk. “Whenever you opt for a beverage, use a straw to help limit the chance of tooth decay and staining,” Dr. Patel says. “Place the straw toward the back of your mouth to keep the liquid from coming into contact with your teeth.”
- Relax your face. The stress of a busy day causes tension in your head, neck and jaw. Consistent tension in the jaw can lead to TMJ. “Take time at your desk to relax your jaw and face muscles,” Dr. Patel says. “Use your fingertips to gently massage your jaw, open and close your mouth a few times, and stretch your tongue forward to the top front teeth, and then up to the roof of your mouth.”
“Taking moments here and there for self-oral care, throughout your busy day, can make a big difference,” Dr. Patel says. “It just means a little more planning and taken individually they are small things that can prevent major problems.”