Thanks to San Francisco’s thriving wellness culture, working professionals in the city are more health-conscious than ever. But it’s not always easy. Between long commute times, late work hours, and busy evenings, finding the time and energy for self care can sometimes feel impossible.
As San Francisco’s trusted holistic dentist, I want you to know that caring for your teeth is worth the effort. No matter how crazy your days are, you deserve a beautiful, healthy smile. And today, I’m sharing 8 simple on-the-go dental health tips to help make that a reality.
1. Keep water close at all times
When it comes to drinking enough water, remember the 8x8 rule: You need to drink eight 8-ounce glasses a day. I recommend keeping a water bottle or water glass at your desk to remind you to stay hydrated during the busiest parts of the day.
In addition to all the general health benefit of staying hydrated, water also helps neutralize the acid in your mouth. Too much acidity around your teeth leads to enamel erosion, decay, cavities, and gum disease. Acidity can also cause dry mouth.
After your morning run to Philz or Blue Bottle, drink lots of water to minimize the acidity leftover from your espresso and ensure your teeth and mouth return to neutral pH levels. Another great reason to chug water after your morning (or afternoon) cup of joe, is it will help prevent unsightly coffee-stained teeth.
2. Store a toothbrush, toothpaste, & floss at your desk
I always encourage keeping a spare toothbrush in your bag or desk drawer to have on hand in a pinch. There are just some things that only a good brushing can fix — like when you had salmon for lunch or have lingering coffee breath.
Additionally, hand held flossers or an interdental brush are easy to fish out in a flash when you have something stuck in your teeth or want to put your best smile forward in your next meeting.
Keeping these dental tools on hand will ensure you’re readily equipped to give your teeth and mouth the attention they deserve whenever they need it.
3. Snack on naturally cleansing foods
In the midst of a busy work day, I know that sometimes you’re lucky to even have time for a proper lunch break. Even so, it’s important to consider your teeth, body, and mind when deciding what to eat or snack on.
I recommend packing healthy items in your bag to make it easier to avoid turning to a sugary snack or candy bar when the hunger kicks in. Instead, I recommend snacking on foods like:
Not only are these foods full of great vitamins and minerals for your teeth and body, they also naturally cleanse your teeth! Crunchy snacks like these help scrape away food or plaque stuck on your teeth. They also take more time to chew, which creates more saliva in your mouth, something very important for cleansing your mouth of bacteria around your gum line.
4. Sip beverages thoughtfully
If you’re partial to swigging drinks like tea, coffee, juice, or soda throughout the day, you need to be careful about how you drink them.
Sugary drinks — especially soda, juice, and sweetened coffee — are very dangerous for your dental health. Not only are they filled with sugar, they’re also highly acidic and destructive to your tooth enamel.
There’s no truly tooth-safe way to enjoy these drinks, so I recommended limiting your consumption. However, I know it’s probably unrealistic to ask you to ditch these drinks altogether.
So, try keeping a reusable straw at your desk or in your bag or purse. Whenever you opt for a beverage, use the straw to help limit the chance of tooth decay and staining. Place the straw towards the back of the mouth to keep the liquid from coming into contact with your teeth.
After you’ve finished your drink, swish some water around in your mouth to help clear away sugar and neutralize acidity.
5. Book lunch-time dental appointments
Part of maintaining healthy teeth and gums is visiting your dentist every 6 months for an exam and cleaning. It’s easy to push these appointments aside with the excuse of being too busy.
Plus, if nothing’s hurting, what’s the point, right? Wrong.
It’s important to take a preventive approach to your dental health. This will help you avoid painful, expensive, and sometimes irreversible issues in the first place.
Work with a San Francisco dentist who can fit you in for an efficient lunchtime appointment. Or, if you’re unable to take away time in the afternoon, choose a practice that offers evening or weekend appointments.
6. Munch on sugar-free gum
If you’re in the habit of chewing gum or are looking for a quick breath freshener in the afternoon, reach for a sugar free option.
In general, gum is helpful for removing excess food from around your teeth and freshening your breath. It can also help increase the flow of saliva in your mouth, which as we know, reduces bacteria buildup.
However, you should always choose a sugar free option. Additionally, gum cannot be used as an alternative for brushing and flossing. Rather, it’s a quick option for maintaining good dental health between brushing.
7. Give your jaw a little love
The stress of a busy day does more than wear you out, it also causes tension in your head, neck, and jaw. Constant stress and tension in your jaw can lead to clenching and TMJ. So take some time at your desk or during a break to relax your face.
Here’s are a few tips for relaxing your jaw and face muscles:
- Use your fingertips to gently massage your jaw, from the front of your face, all the way back to your ears
- Open and close your mouth a few times
- Hold a smile for a few seconds
- Stretch your tongue forward to the top front teeth and then up to the roof of your tongue
Taking a moment here and there throughout the day to do one or all of these little exercise is a sweet act of self love and your jaw will thank you for it!
High-tech and non-invasive dental care on your schedule
Here at Green Dentistry, we understand how busy your daily schedule is. We offer speedy lunch-time appointments, by-request evening and weekend appointments, and simple online scheduling to make it easy to get the high-quality dental care you need.
Plus, our high-tech, spa-like amenities help you relax. From aromatherapy and noise-canceling headphones, to warm blankets and neck wraps — every visit to our San Francisco dental office is a healing and restorative experience. Your appointment will be the perfect reset to your busy day.
A graduate of the University of Southern California and the University of California’s School of Dentistry, Dr. Patel is a leader in the movement to bring environmental sanity and well-being into the dental world. As a trusted dentist, Dr. Patel provides her patients with more than just world-class dental care — she helps them recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health. She is also a ForbesBooks and Amazon best-selling author.