Maintaining healthy teeth

Healthy Teeth Tips:

  • The most effective things that someone can do to ensure that their teeth remain healthy really lies in what you do at home. Everyone knows they need to brush and floss. But not everyone out there is brushing and flossing the right way. Experts recommend that you brush for at least two minutes at a time, and that you brush your teeth at least twice a day. When you brush, hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards the gums. Brush in a back-and-forth motion, and make sure you brush every surface of every tooth. And don't forget your tongue! Brushing your tongue helps remove bacteria that can cause bad breath.

  • You should also give some thought to what kind of brush you're using. A soft brush removes plaque much better than a firmer one, and an electric toothbrush does a better job removing bacteria than a manual one. Finally, be sure to replace your toothbrush every three months. A worn out toothbrush may feel like it's working as well as it always has, but it isn't. Toothbrushes become much less effective as they wear down, so make sure to replace yours at least four times a year.

  • Flossing is important. Most people aren't as good about flossing as they are about brushing. A lot of people say that it's painful and it makes their gums bleed, but that's probably because they're not doing it the right way. You want to ease the floss between your teeth, curving it around each tooth. When you get down to the gums, slide it gently under the gum line, which allows you to remove plaque from beneath your gums. I think most people snap the floss between their teeth too forcefully, and that's what causes the pain, but if done right, flossing shouldn't be painful. Also, keep in mind that there are tools to help you floss. If you find that it's difficult sliding the floss between your teeth, try using waxed floss. If you have trouble holding the floss correctly, you can buy floss holders. Experts recommend that you floss your teeth at least once a day, so don't let pain or difficulty stop you.

  • Most people are familiar with brushing and flossing, but other things you should think about is diet.Diet is very important. I've found that people often think about the effect their diet has on their weight, blood pressure and cholesterol, but they rarely consider the effect it has on their teeth. Sugar and carbs promote tooth decay, so they should be consumed in moderation. If you do decide to eat them, brush your teeth shortly afterwards. Also, if you chew gum, chew sugarless gum. Studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum after a meal can actually help prevent tooth decay. But it has to be sugarless! Chewing regular gum can be really harmful to your teeth.

  • Make sure you don't have any bad oral habits. If you do, now's the time to break them. Nail biting, chewing on items such as pencils or toothpicks or using your teeth to open bottles or tear open bags - these are all common habits that can do damage to your teeth, and they really don't make life any easier. Use a pair of scissors to open bags, use nail clippers to trim your nails - they work much better than your incisors! The bottom line is that your teeth undergo a lot of pressure and stress just performing their intended function, so why put them through more?

  • Even if you brush and floss every day and monitor your diet, you still need to see a dentist at least twice a year. You're never going to be able to remove all the plaque on your teeth. Some of it is going to harden into tartar which you can't remove on your own. Only a professional can do that. Plus, if you do have any decay, the earlier that it's detected and addressed, the better it's going to be. Most families don't have a dentistry budget, so the cost of going to the dentist is often a difficult one, but the cost of going in for routine care is much cheaper than the cost of restoring a decayed tooth. And if you go too long without seeing a dentist, eventually, your teeth WILL require restorations. It's not a matter of if, but when. We receive over a thousand calls a day from patients who haven't seen a dentist in years and now are in pain. Far too many people wait until their teeth hurt to go see a dentist, and if you've done that, you've waited too long.So add the cost of routine dental care to your annual budget. Make sure you get in to see a dentist every six months, and of course, if you don't have a dentist, just call 1-800-DENTIST and we'll be happy to match you with a great dentist in your area.

  • Not taking care of your teeth can lead to heart disease and other health problems. Recent evidence suggests that poor oral health can increase your chances of developing heart disease, possibly even more than high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The reason isn't fully understood yet. One of the most dominate theories suggests that when bacteria from infected gums enter the bloodstream, they attach to blood vessels and help form clots, which could aggravate high blood pressure and possibly cause heart attacks. And heart disease isn't the only condition with a tie to your oral health. If you're diabetic, for example, your high blood sugar levels can provide the bacteria in your mouth with the perfect food source, allowing them to thrive and leading to more cavities and gum disease. In fact, many diabetics are first tipped off to their condition by their dentist. Osteoporosis can also affect your oral health. It can cause patients to lose teeth as their bones become less dense and more fragile.There are other ways it all ties together, but the thing to remember is that your body is a system. Everything in it is connected, and every part of it plays an important role. You don't want to neglect any part of your body or your health and that certainly includes your mouth and teeth. Keep them healthy, and they'll help keep you healthy.

"My Smile Bites!" Smile Makeover Contest
1-800-DENTIST has launched a nationwide $30,000 smile makeover. To enter, contestants must upload a personal video showing what's wrong with their smile and explaining how these problems affect their lives. Video submissions will be accepted through November 10, 2009 noon PST. The winner will be announced December 15, 2009 noon PST.
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