Some careers are harder on your dental health than others, and trucking is one of the them. If your full-time job keeps you at the wheel of your rig, you need to take care that specific habits and conditions from the on-the-road lifestyle do not eventually land you in the dentist's chair. Here's what you can do to properly care for your teeth so they don't become a casualty of your transportation career.
Slow down on coffee and soda consumption.
With long hours at the wheel, many drivers depend on caffeinated beverages to keep them alert. However, these drinks are a cause for a number of health concerns and are particularly damaging to your teeth. Coffee can stain your teeth, and the acidic nature of the beverage gradually damages your enamel. This, of course, does not mean that you have to forgo coffee entirely. If you can, choose black coffee over those with added cream and sugar. Cream and sugar feed bacteria that accelerate decay and make staining worse. Drink your coffee in one sitting, and brush your teeth after you've finished. Don't keep a mug full in your truck to sip on all during your drive -- your teeth will pay the price.
Soda, on the hand, is best for only occasional drinking. Even diet sodas are acidic and tough on your teeth. If you must have a caffeine fix, keep a bottle of caffeine pills handy instead of pulling over for a bottle of Mountain Dew.
Stick to stops for snacking, or choose better snacks.
Many drivers rely on snacks to stay awake on the road. Unfortunately, the best snacks for your teeth are not the ones that are often used during long drives. Sunflowers seeds, for instance, can be a great wake-up snack because they keep your mouth busy, but the shells and salt can dry out your mouth, making you more susceptible to caries. Similarly, sweets like M&Ms, jelly beans, and gummy bears provide a sugary environment that keeps gum-destroying bacteria very happy. If you need a sugary snack, eat it a rest stop and brush your teeth before getting back on the road. For on the the road snacks, eat things like almonds, carrots, and whole wheat crackers -- which are much better for tooth health.
Don't forget the floss.
When keeping your truck fully stocked of your basic necessities, don't forget to grab floss when you grab your travel size tooth paste and brush. Only 40 percent of Americans actually floss daily, and forgetting your floss on the road is one of the surest ways to send your teeth on the path to the dentist. A good rule of thumb is to always floss right before you sleep so you don't forget; variable sleep schedules and driving times can make consistency difficult.
Skip the white bread and potatoes when eating fast food.
The home cooked meal is the ideal for trucking professionals, who would rather stop at a diner than order a burger. But sometimes, necessity dictates a burger and fries while trying to make a deadline. However, white bread and potatoes are not the best choice for your teeth, especially if you're eating behind the wheel and won't have the opportunity to brush for several hours. Starchy food easily fit into the crevices in and around your teeth and gums, forming a thick paste. Pre-digestive enzymes in your mouth break it down into a nice sugary coating, leading to tooth decay. If you have to eat fast food, get your burger protein style, and choose apple slices or a salad as your side dish, instead of ordering fries.