What’s the first thing you notice about someone when you meet them? According to a survey done by the Academy of General Dentistry, 40% of people notice a smile first and 96% believe that a smile is an important aspect of a person’s appearance. And it’s not just about looks. Lily Garcia, a dentist and a past president of the American College of Prosthodontics tells us, “A smile conveys confidence and professionalism.” A smile is important to our social and professional lives, as well as our own self-confidence.
We are all striving for that movie-star grin, but what does it take to achieve and maintain those pearly whites? We’ve put together 6 tips to help you attain a healthy, brighter smile:
- Brush. Simple enough, right? The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day. Some additional tips on brushing:
- Use a soft bristled brush. Brushing too hard or with a firm bristled toothbrush can eventually wear away the protective enamel.
- Replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every 3-4 months. Worn or frayed bristles don’t clean your teeth as well.
- Use a quality, fluoridated toothpaste. Ask your dentist for recommendations if you aren't sure what is best for your dental health.
- Floss. There is no getting around it. Flossing is an essential part of your dental hygiene routine. It removes plaque from parts of your teeth that are difficult or impossible to reach with a toothbrush. Flossing once a day will reduce your risk of cavities and gum disease. To see proper flossing technique, check out these tips and video from the ADA.
- Watch your eating habits. Having a healthy, balanced diet is an important aspect to maintaining a healthy smile. Here are a few specifics:
- Limit the amount of soda you drink. Carbonated beverages (both regular and diet) contain phosphoric acid which softens the enamel of your teeth and can lead to tooth decay.
- Acidic foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes and vinegars can also soften the enamel of your teeth.
- Get enough calcium! Foods such as cheeses, dark leafy greens, milk and nuts provide the calcium and phosphorous needed to remineralize your teeth. (Basically, this is a natural process that occurs to help “undo” the effects that acidic foods have on your enamel.)
- Some foods stain. Be aware of foods, such as coffee, tea, marinara, soy sauce, and red wine which can leave your teeth a yellowish, dull color. If it can leave a stain on a plate or in a cup, it can also discolor your teeth.
- Teeth are for chewing. Don’t use your pearly whites as tools. Opening bags, undoing knots, or cutting fishing line with your teeth will leave them chipped, cracked and overtime can lead to serious cosmetic and functional issues.
- See your dentist regularly. You should routinely go to your dentist for professional cleanings. Most dentists recommend a visit every six months. This is the best way (paired with a consistent home hygiene routine) to stay on top of your oral health and prevent major problems from developing. Don’t be afraid to schedule an appointment with your dentist if you have a question or detect a problem in your mouth. Usually, the sooner you have an issue addressed, the less of a problem it becomes. Some symptoms you might experience that warrant a trip to the dentist office include:
- Frequent bad breath
- Teeth that are sensitive to hot or cold
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Puffy or swollen gums
- A persistent sore in your mouth that does not go away
- A toothache
- Whitening. So, you are following all of your dentist’s recommendations for good oral health. You are brushing and flossing, your gums look great and your teeth are cavity free. But, you are hoping to brighten your smile even more. There are many whitening options out there. They range from special toothpastes, to strips, to trays, to in office procedures. Talk to your dentist about whitening options. It’s important to discuss the pros and cons of each approach.For example: while whitening toothpastes are inexpensive, they only have the ability to take on surface stains and do not actually change the color of your tooth. A whitening toothpaste may take weeks to months to see results (one to two shade difference) and can be abrasive to the surface of your teeth. Versus an in-office laser whitening procedure that takes only forty-five minutes to an hour and can whiten up to eight shades, but is obviously more expensive than the toothpaste. Work together with your dental healthcare professional to find a solution that fits your lifestyle and your budget.
Implement these suggestions into your dental hygiene routine and watch your smile brighten! We’d love to hear how your great smile has enhanced your confidence, increased your social activities or given you a boost in your professional endeavors. And do not forget, you still have time to take part in our Brighter Smile contest.