Your smile is important to you and if you’re confident about the way it looks, you’ll be flashing it with regularity. An attractive smile does not happen without effort on your part — regular maintenance and care can give your a winning smile and will ensure that your oral health is always stellar. Read on for seven smart tips on how to achieve and maintain stellar oral health.
1. Brush your teeth at least twice daily. Morning and evening brushings are the minimum number of times you should spend cleaning your teeth. If possible, brush your teeth at least three times or after each meal. Brush for at least two minutes, using gentle up and down motions. When brushing is not possible, such as while you are at work, rinsing your mouth with clear water can help, so visit the water fountain after you eat.
2. Use the right toothbrush. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, avoiding harder bristles that can damage your teeth and irritate your gums. Find a toothbrush that you are comfortable handling and use that one. It isn’t important whether you use a manual or an electric toothbrush notes Dr. Michael Sesemann, president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery — just find one that you like using. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, sooner if the bristles are worn down.
3. Brush inside and out. You’ve got the outside cleaning of your teeth nailed down, but what about the inside? You know, the part of your teeth that your tongue presses up against. Tops and fronts of your teeth are easy to clean, but so is the inside surface of your teeth. Keep these clean and don’t forget to brush your tongue. Yes, your tongue.
4. Floss with regularity. How often should you floss? At least once daily. Flossing takes time, therefore the best time may be in the evening. Do it in the morning and you’ll rush through it as you get ready for work or head off to school. Use approximately 18 inches of floss and work between each tooth and down to your gum line. Your dental hygienist can review proper flossing technique with you.
5. Rinse your mouth with care. You may be fond of a certain mouth wash or rinse, what you typically use after you clean your teeth. Your mouth feels fresh, your breath is clean and your smile is golden. Trouble is, rinses can mask an underlying health issue and shouldn’t be used as a substitute for dental checkups. The FDA recognizes two types of mouthwashes: cosmetic rinses and therapeutic rinses, the latter preferred by dentists, regulated by the FDA and voluntarily approved by the American Dental Association.
6. Visit your dentist. Dental visits are typically not on your list of favorite things to do, ranking down there with “working on my taxes” in popularity. Still, twice-yearly dental visits can head off problems and ensure that your oral health remains good. Expect your dentist to clean your teeth with each visit and take x-rays once annually. Your dentist can help discover problems, addressing plaque and signs of gum disease.
7. Sign up for a dental plan. If your employer offers a dental plan, then sign up. Dental plans offer basic coverage with some offering care beyond screenings and cleanings. Dental insurance can cover or reduce the cost of expensive procedures including sealants, crowns, bridges, implants and more. If you’re self-employed, your health insurance provider may offer a separate dental plan.
Tell your dentist about any concerns that you have and work with him to keep your oral health stellar. Your dentist can uncover other health issues too, perhaps identifying a serious problem and referring you to another medical professional as needed.