7 Steps to a Better Smile
By Kennika Freeman
It's no surprise that a bright, white smile makes you appear younger and more attractive. But the mouth is also the gateway to the body, which means the state of your teeth and gums, affects your overall health. Believe it or not, the secrets to a great smile are simple steps that each and every one of us can take. Below are seven steps that will lead you to a brighter and better smile.
- 1. Brush regularly. Brushing is the cornerstone of dental hygiene. It removes food particles that bacteria feed on, cleans teeth, and freshens the breath. A toothpaste with fluoride helps strengthen teeth, but you must brush for at least two minutes to allow it to do its work. Brushing removes bacteria from our teeth so they can no longer make acid. It is important, however, to remove bacteria from all tooth surfaces.
- 2. Floss! Floss! Floss! O.K. so you've heard that you need to floss at least once a day. But has anyone ever told you why? You see it all has to do with bacteria again. These crafty critters like to hide between teeth to escape the wrath of the toothbrush. Here they continue to feed on food spewing out cavity causing acid. Worst yet; if allowed to remain for a long time, these bacteria invade and destroy gum tissue as well as the bones and ligaments which support teeth. Flossing removes these bacteria from between teeth so they can no longer cause problems. This also helps prevent gum disease.
- 3. Don't be afraid to visit the dentist. Visit your dentist at least twice a year for thorough dental cleanings. Your dentist can spot the early signs of gum disease, which is more easily treated when caught in the beginning stages. If you are prone to gum disease and cavities, consider visiting your dentist every four months.
- 4. Eat a healthy diet. Include plenty of dairy and other calcium-rich foods, like sardines and kale, in your diet. Calcium helps maintain strong bones and teeth, and the vitamin C in citrus fruits boosts gum health. Sugary and sticky foods that stick to the crevices of your teeth are particularly bad, as bacteria feed off the sugars and release acids that cause cavities. If you do eat sugary sweets, eat them moderately.
- 5. Don't smoke or use smokeless tobacco. People who smoke are four times more likely than nonsmokers to have gum disease, according to a study by the Journal of Periodontology. Using smokeless tobacco increases a person's risk for oral cancers, including lip, tongue, cheeks, and gums. On a smaller scale, tobacco products contribute to bad breath, or halitosis.
- 6. Reduce your dependency on coffee. Believe it or not, coffee is one of the most dangerous threats to your smile. Coffee stains teeth destroying your naturally white smile. Worst yet, because most people sip coffee throughout the day, bacteria are provided with a constant source of sugar from which to produce cavity causing acid. If that wasn't bad enough, coffee can cause small fractures in teeth called crazes. These occur when the teeth are forced to expand and contract as a result of being exposed to hot foods or liquids. These hot and cold cycles occur when we drink hot coffee. Over a prolonged period of time, this will create crazes in the teeth.
•7. Stop brushing so hard. Incredibly, nearly two out of three people damage their own teeth by brushing too hard! It takes very little pressure to remove bacteria, food, and plaque. Unfortunately, most people apply three to four times the necessary brushing pressure causing damage to teeth and gums. This damage includes: receding gums, sensitive teeth, notched teeth, and root cavities.
Remember, smiling is a universal symbol for happiness. When a person has a perfect smile on their face they will not only appear happier but also more successful, attractive, and younger!