June is Dental Smiles Month. You may also hear this month celebrated as “National Smile Month” as well as “Oral Health Month”. No matter the name, the focus is on keeping a healthy smile as spring turns into summer and more days are spent away on vacation, out in the sun and eating popular summer treats. Want to keep your smile healthy all summer long and throughout the rest of the year? Here are 10 tips to get a healthier smile or to keep it healthy!
Tooth decay and gum disease are some of the most common oral health issues that Americans face. 42% of children have cavities. 92% of Americans will have had tooth decay by the time they reach adulthood. Gum disease affects more than 64.7 million Americans. Both of these conditions lead to tooth loss and declining health. More than 120 million americans have lost at least one tooth and more than 30 million Americans are missing all their teeth. All of these problems stem directly from not following oral hygiene measures.
One of the best habits you can have for a healthier smile is to brush your teeth. The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth at least twice a day (if not after every meal) for two minutes at a time. Use fluoride toothpaste that is ADA-approved so you know it is safe for use and that it will help you fight off bacteria that causes cavities.
Did you know that you miss 40% of your tooth surfaces if you don’t floss your teeth? This can spell disaster for your oral health if you consistently skip flossing. It only takes 2 minutes or less. Get about 18 inches of new floss each time, which allows every few teeth a few inches of floss. Wind the floss around your pointer or middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches to floss with. Floss all the way up into your gum line and then gently scrape the teeth as you go.
Prone to getting cavities? Many children will get dental sealants to help prevent cavities easier. Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are painted on the teeth to seal them from food and bacteria that cause cavities. These can be placed on the adult teeth if you are prone to cavities. To help prevent cavities every day, ask about fluoride treatments. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that helps strengthen the teeth against bacteria. You can use fluoride toothpaste or get fluoride in gels or foams.
The most common cause of cavities is sugar, as sugar mixes with bacteria in your mouth to make plaque. That plaque is what sits on your teeth all day and erodes your tooth enamel. The more sugar you eat, the more plaque you make, and the higher your chances are for cavities. Just like the rest of your body, your teeth receive many benefits if you have a healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends that the daily limit of sugar should be 9 teaspoons for men, 6 teaspoons for women, no more than 6 for kids and 0 for infants. Reduce your sugar and see how your oral health issues improve!
Just gotta have that coffee in the morning? How about that energy drink or your nighttime glass of wine? All of these drinks will do different things to your teeth. Some will stain your teeth, while others will erode the tooth enamel. The latter happens when you drink anything that has either sugar or acids in it. Anything with carbonic acid (carbonation) in it or citric acid will place acid on the teeth that erodes the enamel and causes decay. If your teeth are weak or get cavities often, switch to milk or water only.
Some foods may have loads of sugar you may not be aware of. Those include breads, pastas, jams or jellies, yogurt, diet/snack bars, diet shakes, cereals, snack crackers and dressings. Always check food labels to see what ingredients may harm your teeth.
Tobacco and alcohol almost always have some sort of preservative acid in them. They will act just like citric acid and carbonic acid on your teeth. Tobacco is also very common for causing cancer. As it goes in your mouth, your risk for oral cancer skyrockets. Both tobacco and alcohol will damage or kill nerves in your mouth and any cells they come in contact with. If you want a healthier smile and fewer health problems, cut out these substances.
The ADA recommends that every person—from infants to senior citizens—visit the dentist at least twice a year. These appointments will be comprehensive exams and dental cleanings to both clean the teeth and to detect the presence of oral health diseases. If your teeth are crooked, you may be referred to an orthodontist or to orthodontic treatment through Invisalign. Crooked teeth are more prone to tooth decay and gum disease. Straightening them makes them easier to clean, reduces your risk for cavities and makes a healthier smile one that is more beautiful too.
Are you stuck at the office for most of your day? Do you travel often? Don’t let your oral health get worse because of frequently skipping brushing and flossing. Purchase either a travel hygiene kit or make your own. There are tiny toothbrushes, toothpastes, mouthwashes and more that you can carry with you in a small bag so you can brush and floss at any time.
You can have a healthier smile by establishing solid daily habits of brushing and flossing your teeth. See the dentist often manage your sugar intake. There is no reason you can’t have a healthier smile if you follow these basic guidelines. For more tips, call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies today at (970) 223-6101!