7 Simple Steps to a Healthier Smile
Oftentimes when you meet a person, the thing you remember most about them is their smile. What is yours telling the world?
While many of us might be opting for designer trends such as abrasive whitening techniques, costly orthodontic treatments, or even veneers, there are actually several steps you can take (mostly) from the comfort of your home to ensure your smile is healthy and beautiful.
Brushing. Obviously this is the first step to strong oral health. But could you be brushing wrong? Dentists recommend a thorough brushing at least once a day for 2.5 to 3 minutes minimally. This might feel like a century to those of us trying to blow through this daily routine. Don’t sweat it. Work your way up, trying to add 30 seconds to a minute every week until you’ve finally conquered that sweet spot of 3 minutes daily.
Flossing. You’re now a tooth-brushing master. But the sad truth is, brushing your teeth only removes about 50% of the bacteria floating around in there. Shocking, we know. The alternative? Floss. It’s the only other dental tool you have in your arsenal to fully protect your teeth from the damaging effects of oral bacteria and plaque. You should floss at least once every single day. Having a hard time doing so? Make sure you always have floss on hand. In the car, in your purse, and at the office. Every time you brush, follow-up with flossing.
Products. Not all dental products are created equal. In fact, many toothpastes and mouthwashes have warnings on their labels instructing users to not swallow the product. Why is this? Well, sadly, because of some of the questionable ingredients lurking inside. From synthetic dyes to skin irritants such as sodium lauryl sulfates even to pesticides in the form of triclosan, there’s a clear reason why many of these items shouldn’t be consumed. But then the question is: should we be using them in the first place? Look for products whose ingredients you trust and that score low with the EWG.
Whitening. Sure, we all want our pearly whites to be at their whitest, but did you know that not all shades of white are the same for everyone? Each person has a unique and specific color to their teeth, meaning one person’s white might not even be achievable for someone else. Teeth range from off-white to yellow to gray to even brown, no matter how much you take care of them. If you’re determined to whiten your teeth, look for products with safe ingredients first.
See your dentist. While it may be standard to visit the dentist twice a year, many adults should actually be going every three months or so. Why so much? Because brushing and flossing will only get rid of so much bacteria. At a certain point, bacterial growth becomes resistant, clinging to surfaces on and between the teeth, even after the most vigorous brushing and flossing. This is when it’s time to call in the big guns and go see your dentist who has specialized tools to manually remove this caked on build-up, keeping your teeth healthy and clean.
Watch your diet. You can help control the bacterial growth in your mouth by not supplying it with optimal food to begin with. Oral bacteria feasts on sugar, creating acid as a byproduct that erodes the surface of teeth. Foods that are high in acids, like citrus, tomatoes, and vinegar, directly impact the enamel, making teeth more susceptible to damage. Foods high in starch, like potato chips, breads, and pastas, break down into tiny particles, lodging themselves in the hardest to reach places and wreaking havoc.
Get your nutrients. Finally, oral health isn’t just about avoiding bad foods; it’s also about making sure you get enough of the right ones! Many nutrients impact that strength and longevity of your teeth, like calcium, vitamins A, B, C, and D, phosphorous, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Be sure to get a diet rich in whole foods and supplement with top-notch vitamin and mineral products to ensure you’re getting enough of the good stuff.
A healthier smile is just around the corner. Even if you’ve had a questionable oral health history, there’s not time like the present to take control of your dental practices to ensure beautifully strong teeth.
 WebMD. 7 secrets to a healthier smile. Accessed April 5, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/7-secrets-healthier-smile?page=2.