Everybody loves a great smile, and studies have actually shown that people respond far more favorably – at work and socially – to those with good-looking teeth and smiles. If you've been unhappy with the way your smile looks, or if you just want to have better oral health habits overall, make a New Year's resolution to follow these simple steps to a brighter smile and healthier teeth and gums:
1. Make sure you're brushing properly.
The number one mistake most people make with their personal dental care is to brush too briefly. When you brush, you have to make sure to clean every tooth, front and back, using gentle, circular motions, not aggressive scrubbing motions. Most general dentistry professionals recommend two minutes as a minimum brushing time; next time you brush, time yourself. If you're like most people, you'll be shocked to see how far short you're falling.
2. Replace your toothbrush regularly.
Speaking of brushing, the American Dental Association recommends replacing your brush at least every three to four months, or more frequently if it's showing signs of wear. Replacing your brush isn't just important for good cleaning; it also helps prevent a buildup of harmful germs like decay-causing bacteria. You can also help prevent bacteria by storing your toothbrush in a place where the bristles can air out until the next use.
3. Floss after every meal.
If you add only one oral hygiene habit this year, make it flossing. Flossing only takes a minute or so, yet many people are reluctant to perform this small step that can have a big impact on the health of teeth and gums. To floss correctly, wind the ends of the floss firmly around your index fingers and gently ease the floss between teeth – don't use a sawing motion or jam the floss downward, which can injure gums. Curve the floss around each tooth near the gum line and then bring the floss back up and out to remove hidden food particles and prevent plaque.
4. See your dentist twice a year.
That's often enough to catch decay in its earliest stages and identify bad habits that could be harming your teeth. Regular exams also provide important oral cancer screenings.
5. Don't ignore restorative care.
In addition to preventive dental care, your general dentistry professional provides restorative treatments and cosmetic dentistry options like caps, crowns and bridges that can protect teeth compromised by decay and replace missing teeth. Many people wrongly believe that as long as a missing tooth doesn't show, it's OK. But missing teeth provide an opportunity for neighboring teeth to begin to shift, weakening their roots and leading to more decay and potentially additional tooth loss, so addressing these issues is an important part of your dental care routine.
6. Renew your smile with professional teeth whitening.
Unlike at-home kits, teeth whitening performed by a professional with experience in cosmetic dentistry offers a longer-term solution with much more natural results. Teeth whitening is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do to make your smile look younger and healthier. Advanced options make the teeth whitening procedure easier than ever, so add this to your list of dental care resolutions.
7. Quit smoking.
There are lots of reasons to quit smoking, and having better-looking teeth and healthier gums is one of them. Smoking impairs circulation to gum tissue, and it also increases your risk for oral cancers. Plus, it stains your teeth and give you bad breath. You can find tips for quitting and support group information at the SmokeFree.gov website.
8. Watch your diet.
Teeth need calcium, vitamin D and many different types of trace minerals, so be sure to eat a balanced diet of of healthy foods to help support healthy teeth and gums. Cheese is a good source of calcium, and studies have shown enzymes in cheese may help prevent tooth decay by fighting off harmful bacteria.
9. Watch foods that stain.
Coffee, tea, red wine and antioxidant-rich berries all have natural dyes that can stain teeth. That doesn't mean you need to eliminate these foods; just be vigilant about brushing and flossing consuming them. Also be sure to brush – or at least rinse – after eating foods like citrus fruits or strawberries that are high in acids that can etch enamel. And for good measure, wait about 30 minutes to an hour after eating to brush to protect enamel, which may temporarily become soft after eating.
These steps are all relatively simple to incorporate into your daily living, but they can have a significant impact on the health of your teeth and gums. For more information about ways to improve your oral health in 2015, visit your dentist regularly and ask for tips.
Image Credit: hehaden (away 'til Friday)
Posted in: Dental Health and Wellness