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Ask the Doc

5 Things I Do Daily to Stay Fresh

By taking a holistic approach to her personal oral health and dentistry practice, Heather Kunen, DDS, MS, co-founder of Beam Street, is giving people in the New York area reasons to smile from sunrise to sunset. Follow her lead and you, too, can keep beaming all day long.

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1. Rinse, rinse, rinse. I always rinse my mouth with water after meals in order to more quickly neutralize my oral pH level. Many people don’t realize that each time they eat, the pH level drops in their mouth. This drop in pH (which lasts for about 20 minutes) creates an acidic environment that makes teeth more vulnerable to decay. If you like to snack, try to limit the period of time you’re eating in order keep that drop in pH as short as possible.


2. Be in the know. The term “holistic dentist” has come to be associated with trends such as charcoal toothpaste, oil pulling and the anti-fluoride movement, and with society veering away from anything artificial, important advances in modern dentistry are being unfairly stigmatized. I consider my patients’ whole health and stay current on studies on dental products and procedures, which I incorporate daily into my practice.


3. Brush better. The biggest tips I can give for maintaining the healthiest smile possible is to stay thorough and consistent with your brushing and flossing routines (I personally make sure to brush for at least two minutes twice a day) and to reach all surfaces of your teeth and gumline with your toothbrush (30 seconds per quadrant of your mouth). Brushing too hard can often result in damage and even gum recession. Instead, I use gentle circles along the gumline to remove bacteria that has accumulated.


4. Supplement your smile. Though I take 400 milligrams each magnesium and vitamin B2 every day to help prevent the onset of migraines, they both also benefit oral health: A B-vitamin deficiency is linked to canker sores, and some studies have found a greater risk of periodontal disease in those who don’t get enough magnesium.

Walking Shoes

5. Stay ahead of stress. A weakened immune system, which may be caused by stress, can lead to a higher incidence of cold sores, mouth ulcers and even oral fungal infections. One way to de-stress is through regular exercise: As a resident of NYC, I take advantage of the city by walking five miles per day (which I track on my iPhone’s Health app).