There’s an old song that says, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” Your smile is often the first thing folks will notice about you, so it’s important to make it memorable!
But having a healthy smile is about more than looking good. Smiling can actually reduce stress and strengthen your heart. And if your teeth look attractive and healthy, you will be confident and want to smile more.
In order to maintain a healthy smile, it’s important to practice good dental and oral hygiene. Here are some of our top tips for keeping a healthy and good-looking smile.
Why Protect Your Smile?
Some folks have a tendency to let their dental health fall by the wayside. Perhaps they simply hate the dentist. In other cases, they might not understand how important oral health is.
In reality, the health of your teeth and gums affects the health of the rest of your body. Let’s take a closer look at why maintaining a healthy smile is so important.
Maintain Your Teeth
Have you ever had one of those bad dreams where all of your teeth fall out? If you do not take the steps to keep a healthy smile, that nightmare could become a reality.
Estimates indicate that almost 20% of adults older than 65 have no teeth at all. Many more adults than that have lost at least one tooth by that age.
While it is possible to replace your teeth with dentures, or false teeth, this can be cumbersome and expensive. It’s much more cost effective to take the time to take care of your original teeth.
Most folks realize that if they don’t brush and floss their teeth regularly, they can get infections. They might not realize, however, that poor oral health can lead to infections in other parts of the body.
This is because cavities can be breeding grounds for bacteria. And once an infection grows in one of your teeth, it can enter your bloodstream through cuts in the gums.
An infection in your blood can travel to your heart, lungs, or even your brain. Additionally, the plaque from your teeth can travel through your bloodstream and create a blockage in your heart. These are just a few of the ways poor oral health can lead to much more serious health problems.
Build Your Confidence and Relationships
While there are important medical motivations for maintaining a healthy smile, that doesn’t mean aesthetic reasons aren’t important. A smile is a cornerstone of a universal language shared by all people. This means that having a smile you can be proud of is essential to communicating with others.
Healthy Smile Tips and Habits
Now that you have decided to be dedicated to keeping a healthy smile, it’s time to adopt some regular oral hygiene habits. These will ensure that your smile stays in good shape for a long time.
Brush, Rinse, and Floss
It may seem obvious, but the first step to protecting your healthy smile is practicing basic oral hygiene.
While most folks know that brushing, using mouthwash, and flossing are all important, many admit to neglecting these habits. For instance, 25 percent of adults report that they don’t brush twice a day, and less than a quarter flosses regularly.
In reality, twice a day is the minimum you should brush your teeth. It’s never a bad idea to brush an extra time after lunch to freshen your breath and remove food particles.
That said, be careful not to overdo it when brushing. Brushing too hard can damage the enamel on your teeth and can hurt your gums. Instead, brush gently in a small, circular motion.
But brushing only removes about half of the food particles that get lodged between your teeth and in your gums. To clean your teeth more thoroughly, you need to also floss at least once daily. Flossing also loosens up plaque, making it easier for your toothbrush to remove it.
You should also rinse daily with a mouthwash that contains fluoride. Mouthwash will add protection to your teeth, and can also kill bacteria in your mouth. This can help prevent the growth of germs that cause gum disease like gingivitis.
Use the Right Toothbrush and Toothpaste
In addition to brushing your teeth often, it’s also important to use the right tools to maintain your healthy smile.
For instance, you should use a toothbrush that has bristles that are strong enough to get your teeth clean, but not so hard that they will harm your teeth. Toothbrushes with harsh bristles can irritate your gums, which causes them to recede. You should typically change your toothbrush every 90 days.
Also, brushing with an abrasive toothbrush or toothpaste can wear away the enamel on your teeth. Your enamel is a protective coating that, once destroyed, cannot be replaced.
One sign that your enamel is wearing away is sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. If you notice increased sensitivity, try using a sensitive toothpaste and replacing your toothbrush.
Deal with Problems Quickly
No matter how well you take care of your teeth, you may develop a few cavities in your life. The key is to make sure you deal with cavities quickly after they form.
When a cavity is left untreated, it grows deeper. This can expose the nerve of the tooth, which can be extremely painful.
Also, the bigger the hole in your tooth is, the more likely it is to become infected. Once the tooth becomes infected, this can lead to needing a root canal. In some cases, an infected tooth may need to be removed entirely.
While it may be unpleasant to get a cavity filled, it is certainly much more pleasant than a root canal or an extraction. Dealing with cavities head-on will reduce the need for taking these extreme measures.
If you have children, it is essential to get them started with healthy dental habits as early as possible. Instilling these habits early on will help children to maintain them as they grow older.
A good way to impress these habits upon your children is to model them. By showing your child that you take dental care seriously, you will help them learn to take it seriously themselves.
Practice Preventative Maintenance
If you wait to make an appointment with the dentist until you are already experiencing tooth or gum pain, you have waited too long. Most dental problems do not entail any pain in the early stages. The only way to detect them early on is to visit your dentist regularly or frequently.
At the bare minimum, you should visit your dentist for a checkup and clean at least once every six months. If you have dental problems like gingivitis or frequent cavities, your dentist may recommend visiting more often.
Some people avoid visiting the dentist due to anxiety or fear of pain. If this is the case for you, talk to your dentist about what options are available. Many offices provide treatment options designed especially for high-fear patients.
Bad Habits to Break
Adopting good dental hygiene habits is only half the battle when working towards a healthy smile. It’s also important to ditch bad habits that are hurting your teeth.
Watch What You Eat
You know the old saying, “You are what you eat.” This can certainly be applied when it comes to keeping a healthy smile.
To keep your teeth in good shape, there are certain foods you should avoid. Sugary drinks like juice and soda break down the enamel in your teeth. Sticky, sugary candies can also do damage.
Additionally, drinks like coffee, tea, and red wine can stain your teeth and distort their color. Alchohol and caffeine can also damage the enamel on your teeth.
If you like to drink these beverages, consider using a straw. This way, the liquid will not come in direct contact with your teeth. Also, using milk in this beverages can help to neutralize the acids, making them less damaging to enamel.
Another bad eating habit that can harm teeth is chewing ice. Chewing ice can damage the enamel in your teeth, and can also do damage to any existing fillings you might have.
If you did not already have enough reasons to give up your smoking habit, here’s one more: smoking is terrible for your teeth.
The tar and nicotine in cigarettes stain your teeth over time. This can make your teeth look yellow, or even brown after several years. Additionally, smoking can contribute to developing mouth sores and gum disease.
Don’t Bite Your Nails
If you have ever bit your nails down too far, you know that nailbiting is bad for your fingers. But another reason to ditch the habit is that it’s bad for your teeth.
In some cases, you can chip your teeth by biting your nails. Also, positioning your jaw this way can put a strain on it. This can lead to a misaligned bite, making your smile look crooked.
In general, stress has several negative effects on your health. But many folks don’t realize that stress and anxiety can negatively impact your teeth.
Many people grind or clench their teeth when they are stressed, and even do so in their sleep. This wears away at your teeth and destroys the enamel.
To prevent damage from grinding, find ways to reduce stress in your life. In some cases, the best option may be to get a night guard to prevent grinding at night.
Get Whiter Teeth
In addition to a healthy smile, it is also rewarding to have a bright and beautiful smile. Here are some ways to keep your teeth white and looking great.
One of the easiest approaches to teeth whitening is making the switch to whitening toothpaste. With this method, you do not need to add another habit to your dental care regimen.
Whitening kinds of toothpaste help to remove some stains from your teeth because they contain mild abrasives. Since these do not contain bleach, they will only lighten the color of your teeth by about one shade.
Also, be careful using whitening toothpaste for too long. Because of the abrasive nature, this toothpaste can damage enamel when used in excess.
If you are willing to dedicate more time to whitening your teeth, whitening strips might be a good choice for you. These thin strips are coated with a peroxide-containing gel. When used daily, they can show significant results in the span of a few months.
In addition to the strips, this same type of gel is also available in whitening pens. The pen application makes it easier to get the gel on all of your teeth in an even way.
One of the newer approaches to teeth whitening is LED lighting. The LED light can speed up the process by which gel works to lighten your teeth. You can use this method at home with a whitening kit.
If home whitening options do not provide the results you are looking for, you can consider having your teeth whitened professionally. In these sessions, the dentist applies bleach directly to your teeth and uses a combination of heat and light to accelerate the chemical process. Patients typically see results immediately after one session.
Maintaining White Teeth
How long your teeth stay white depends on a couple of factors. For one, some approaches, like bleaching or LED, tend to have more permanent effects than whitening toothpaste.
Additionally, avoiding habits that stain your teeth is essential to keeping them white. So, if you have your teeth whitened, it is especially important to stay away from staining drinks like coffee, tea, and wine.
Preserving Your Healthy Smile
Your smile plays an important role in demonstrating who you are to others. Keeping a healthy smile is essential if you want to look your best.
If you would like to learn more about how to maintain your healthy smile, contact us. We’ll work with you to find the right solutions for your teeth.