A smile reveals a lot about a person. It’s not just about a blindingly beautiful smile. A dull, dingy smile can reveal just how bad you are at oral hygiene, or worse, indicate problems with your health. An attractive smile certainly exudes confidence but if recent studies are any indication, a smile can also reveal what is not so perfect about your health habits. Here are a few tips that really work to keep that smile gorgeous, healthy and cavity-free.
Halt the Smoke Habit
Did you know that smokers are more prone to gum disease? Smoking is the number one risk factor to periodontitis, and smokers are 2 to 3 times more likely to get gum disease than non-smokers. So if you smoke, quit. Both dentists and oral surgeons agree with numerous studies; smokers heal more slowly after surgery as compared to those who don’t smoke.
Quit Drinking Soda
Who doesn’t love a soda, especially when that mid-afternoon slump sets in? Refreshing as soda may be, it’s also loaded with non-nutrient ingredients, most notably sugar. And you can forget about the diet stuff too. Recent research shows that diet soda is just as bad on tooth enamel as its high-calorie, full fat counterparts. If you imbibe in a lot of soda every day, ask your dentist to recommend a fluoride rinse to help protect against that afternoon sugar or diet soda surge.
Avoid Drama with Dental Exams
Without regular dental exams you could be putting your health in danger. Drama aside, a dentist can evaluate you for many conditions that if caught early can save your life. For starters, dentists check for oral cancer, which is seen predominately in people over the age of 40. Gum disease, which according to the CDC affects half of the population over 30, is another condition that treated early can have you avoiding bone erosion and tooth loss. The condition of your mouth can show signs of what’s actually happening with your body before a condition becomes fully vested. It’s also the main reason dentist check for swelling, lesions and sores in the mouth.
Clip the Clenching
Grinding and clenching can do a number on the enamel of your teeth. The more you grind and clench the more the enamel wears away making you prone to breaks, hairline factures, chips, gum recession and cracks. If untreated, it can lead to cavities and gum disease, not to mention a heftier dental bill the longer you put off correcting it. The number one culprit behind the grind: stress. If you need to alleviate daily stress whether it’s the kids, work or personal relationships, try meditation, exercise with a friend or spend some time in the great outdoors. In the meantime, check with your dentist about getting a mouth guard. If you wear this at night, you won’t be in danger of grinding away healthy teeth.
Block the Bleaching
Remember when the term ‘bleachorexic’ was used to describe those neon-white smiles people were sporting? Well, it’s real and so are the side effects. Over bleaching your pearly whites can make them sensitive. Sensitive teeth make it difficult to eat or drink anything hot or cold, and you can forget about brushing. Some studies also indicate that it can erode your enamel. In any case, if you’re hooked on teeth whitening, remember everything in moderation. Once you reach the right shade, consider whitening treatments no more than once or twice a year.
Dump Dry Mouth for Good
Another risk factor to gum disease is dry mouth. As you age, your body has difficulty making the saliva that washes away food debris and plaque that forms on your teeth. With more plaque sticking to your teeth, you are at greater risk for gum disease, cavities and bad breath. Fluoride rinses can help as can toothpastes especially developed to maintain a certain PH balance in your mouth. At your next dental exam, ask your dentist for their recommendations. Some at-home remedies include drinking more water and swishing your mouth with water after a meal or snack.
During pregnancy, gums can become red, swollen and inflamed. Blame the adrenaline of hormones, specifically the hormone progesterone. Because of this pregnancy surge, flossing and brushing become even more important to a mother’s health. Some studies have established that there is a link between gum disease and low-birth weight babies. Some dental professionals even suggest that dental cleanings should be done more frequently to keep mild gingivitis from blooming into full-blown periodontitis.
Practice your Brush Stroke
Like any habit, brushing your teeth can become pure drudgery. Yet, it is so necessary if you want to keep your smile cavity-free and your pearly whites clean. According to the ADA, brushing twice a day for at least two minutes is your best bet to keeping tooth decay away.
But as boring as brushing may be, it wouldn’t hurt to check HOW you’re brushing your teeth as well. Always remember to use a soft-bristle brush and hold it at a 45 degree angle against your gum line while brushing in a circular motion. And don’t forget the floss. The golden rule of flossing is to be patient and take your time. If you’re not careful, and rush the job, you can rip and tear at your gums giving bacteria a reason to proliferate in your bloodstream, and frankly who needs that.
Remember, smiles say so much more than what you’re feeling at any point in time. A smile can be a window into your physical health, and with a little help from a dental professional, you can keep that smile healthy and attractive for a lifetime.
Here are a few affordable ways to keep your smile healthy as well as beautiful and won’t deplete your bank account in the process.