These days, everyone wants a shiny, white smile. There are more teeth whitening products on the market today than ever before, from teeth whitening toothpaste, strips, kits and even entire systems. But we all forget there is more to a healthy smile than just white teeth. A healthy smile means so much more. Dr. Shishir Shah of Sun Smile Dental offers some crucial tips on how to get a pearly white and healthy smile.
There is more to it than meets the eye. As with most things in life, knowing is the first step. While it may seem that having white teeth means you have a healthy smile, this is not always the case.
Make dentist visits part of your 3-month ritual. Dr. Shah explains, “The standard twice-a-year dentist visit is just not enough. You should be seeing your dentist every three months (quarterly). Even a thorough cleaning does not last longer than that.” While dentist visits may seem expensive and time consuming, that really is not the case, especially when you consider the cost of other routine expenses (haircuts, hair color, oil changes, etc.)
Day & Night: Brush at the right time. While we all know that brushing first thing in the morning and right before sleeping is recommended by dentists, we may not know the scientific reasoning behind it. Brushing first thing in the morning helps to brush off the plaque and bacteria that builds up throughout the night, according to Dr. Shah, while brushing at night cleans plaque before buildup while sleeping — noting that saliva, which naturally protects teeth from plaque buildup, dries up at night.
Toss that old toothbrush. We have all likely been guilty of overusing a toothbrush beyond the three to four months recommended by dentists. Dr. Shah strongly advises against doing so, stating, “a brush is not meant to be used for more than three months; the brush’s bristles wear down at that point and then fail to serve its purpose.”
Electric is the way to go. While it requires a higher upfront cost, research has shown that electric toothbrushes improved oral hygiene in more than 80 percent of patients, with a significant reduction in plaque and gingivitis. Dr. Shah recommends the use of an electric toothbrush, which helps prevent gum disease. Of course, don’t forget to throw out the old head of the electric brush. A good way to remember this is to change toothbrushes right after your professional cleaning.
A bite guard won’t bite back. Nighttime teeth grinding (nocturnal bruxism) afflicts about 15 percent of the American population, which over time could age a person’s teeth by up to 10 years. The most common cause of nocturnal bruxism is stress, and most people afflicted with it are unaware until it is pointed out by their partner or dentist. While wearing a bite guard may seem uncomfortable at first, experts believe that it can significantly reduce damage from nighttime grinding.
Enjoy sugarless gum. While not a replacement for brushing and flossing, chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals could help prevent tooth decay. Sugar-containing gum, on the other hand, could lead to further plaque buildup (a precursor for tooth decay).
Say no to soda. With up to 10 teaspoons of sugar in every can of soda and various types of harmful acids (phosphoric, organic, and citric), which can cause the loss of tooth calcium over time, Dr. Shah suggests minimizing soda intake. When thirsty, healthier beverage alternatives include fruit juices; low-calorie, non-carbonated flavored drinks; or a tall glass of water.
Floss regularly. Flossing is something we are most likely to forget or skip, but flossing regularly can help protect gums, keep teeth healthy and prevent expensive oral care treatments over time.
Update your dentist about medical conditions. In order to receive the right treatment by your dentist, always make sure you provide your current medical history. Medications may have an effect on your oral health, and therefore it is important that your dentist knows about which treatments or medications you may be using.
Source: UT San Diego