New Year’s Eve is all about the glitz and glamour, but the champagne shouldn’t be the only thing that’s sparkling. Your smile should be as radiant as you are. If you’re looking to take care of your pearly whites as you ring in the new year, you’ve made the right choice. Learning how to keep a healthy smile should be a resolution that everyone makes this year. If you want to make this year the best year yet for your teeth, follow these tips.
Brush Teeth with Proper Technique
In order to remove plaque buildup and prevent tooth decay, you should brush your teeth twice a day. Ideally, you should brush when you wake up and before you go to bed. Follow these steps to ensure that your brushing is as effective as possible:
- Squirt a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your brush.
- Angle your brush at a 45-degree angle from your gums.
- Move the toothbrush gently back and forth with short strokes along the teeth and gums.
- Continue to move the toothbrush along the inner and outer surfaces of every tooth.
- Place the tip of the brush in an upright position to reach behind the front teeth along the top and bottom of the jaw.
You should brush for at least 2 minutes each time. Proper brushing is a huge part of how to keep a healthy smile, so make a commitment to the habit. If you don’t brush regularly, you run the risk of getting cavities that will have to get filled.
Learn the Right Way to Floss
In addition to brushing, proper flossing technique is another component of how to keep a healthy smile. Many people let flossing go by the wayside, but don’t skip this important habit if you want to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Flossing removes plaque from in between teeth and can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Follow these steps for proper flossing:
- Wrap about 18 inches of floss around your middle fingers, leaving about two to three inches unwrapped.
- Use your thumb and forefinger to hold the the floss.
- Gently slide the floss between the teeth.
- Make a “C” shape with the floss, using up and down motions to clean the space.
- Repeat the process for each tooth, using a new section of floss for each tooth.
- Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash to clear any excess debris.
Experiencing some light bleeding while flossing is normal at first. Once you make flossing a regular habit, the irritation and bleeding will subside.
Have the Right Tools
Proper brushing and flossing techniques are very important parts of how to keep a healthy smile, but you should also make sure that you have the best tools for the job. Your toothbrush should have soft bristles and a handle that fits comfortably in your hand. The head of the toothbrush should be small enough to easily maneuver in your mouth to reach even the teeth in the back.
Your toothbrush should be replaced regularly. Toothbrush bristles and handles can harbor bacteria that can cause infections. As bristles get older, they get firmer and sharper, which can cut your mouth when you brush. Get a new brush every 3 months or as soon as the bristles start to fray.
Choose a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride is naturally-occurring mineral that helps strengthen tooth enamel, so you’ll have an added bonus while you brush. Toothpaste comes in many varieties to target issues like sensitivity, gingivitis, tartar, and more, so pick out one that suits your needs best.
For floss, there are two basic kinds: nylon and PTFE. Nylon (multifilament) floss is made up of many strands of nylon. This means that it can fray and break. Nylon floss comes in waxed and unwaxed varieties. PTFE (monofilament) floss is made up of just one strand, which makes it easier to glide through narrow spaces. While it is more expensive than nylon floss, PTFE is much less likely to fray or break. There is no difference in the efficacy of these flosses as long as you’re flossing correctly, so find the type that works best for you.
See Your Dentist Regularly
You should see your dentist every 6 months for preventative care. At these regular visits, your dentist will examine your teeth and gums to check for any issues. If any problems are detected, your dentist will be able to diagnose and treat them right away. With most dental issues, early treatment is the best way of how to keep a healthy smile and prevent any lasting damage.
At your appointment, you will have your teeth professionally cleaned. Your dentist will remove any plaque and tartar, which is hardened, built-up plaque. This helps keep your teeth in top shape and helps keep tooth decay and cavities at bay.
Often, your dentist will also take an x-ray of your teeth and mouth. Sometimes, there are issues that can’t be detected with the naked eye. X-rays are a safe, painless way of getting a closer look at your teeth to make sure that they’re healthy on the inside and out.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Although it may seem unrelated, your diet plays a key role in how to keep a healthy smile. Foods high in certain vitamins and low in sugars and acids can help keep your teeth and gums at their best. Here are some mouth-healthy food options to incorporate into your diet:
- Cheese: Eating cheese can raise the pH level in your mouth and lower your risk for tooth decay. Cheese is also high in calcium and protein, which both help strengthen tooth enamel.
- Yogurt: Yogurt, like cheese, is high in calcium and protein. Yogurt also contains probiotics, and these good bacterias take the place of the bad, tooth decay-causing bacteria in your mouth.
- Leafy greens: Leafy greens like spinach and kale are touted as tooth-healthy options due to their vitamin contain. They contain high amounts of calcium and folic acid, which is a type of vitamin B that may help with gum disease.
- Almonds: Almonds are high in calcium and protein and are low in sugar.
- Apples: The high fiber and water content in apples make them a great choice. While eating an apple, your mouth produces a lot of saliva, which helps to clean the teeth. The fibrous texture of the fruit also stimulates the gums.
In addition to tooth-healthy foods, there are plenty of foods that can wreak havoc on your teeth. Try to avoid foods like:
- Soda: Soda is loaded with sugar that clings to teeth and becomes a feast for decay-causing bacteria. Even sugar-free sodas aren’t a safe bet because all soda is incredibly acid. The citric and phosphoric acids that cause carbonation in soda cause further damage, since acid wears down the enamel on teeth.
- Fruit juice and other sweetened drinks: Many people think that fruit juice is a healthy alternative to soda, but that’s just not true. While fruit juice may not be as acidic as soda, it often has just as much sugar. All that sugar coats your teeth and encourages the growth of harmful bacteria.
- Starchy snacks: Snacks like chips and crackers that are made from refined carbohydrates get broken down into simple sugars when chewed. They then turn into a soft paste, which can easily get stuck in the crevices of teeth and become a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Sticky candies: Any sticky foods easily get stuck in all the nooks and crannies of the teeth. Since candies are high in sugar, all that stuck-on food becomes a meal for cavity-causing bacteria.
- Citrus fruits: Even though citrus fruits are healthy in many ways, their high acid content makes them hard on your teeth. The citric acid can wear down your tooth enamel.
Avoid Tooth-Unhealthy Habits
Aside from eating the wrong foods, there are other habits that can dull your smile. The biggest habit to avoid is tobacco use, especially smoking. Smoking can cause a whole host of issues for your oral health, including stained teeth, gum disease, tooth loss, and even mouth cancer.
If you want to keep your teeth as white and bright as possible, try to avoid foods that stain the surfaces of your teeth. Things that tend to stain teeth include:
- Pasta sauce
- Balsamic vinegar
- Sports drinks
It’s not hard to learn how to keep a healthy smile; it simply requires dedication and good habits. With proper brushing, regular flossing, dental visits, and a healthy diet, you can keep your smile looking as beautiful as ever for years to come. If it’s time to visit the dentist to keep your child’s smile looking bright, make an appointment with Children’s Dentistry today.