Remember how you never shied away from giving a big, bright, full-toothed smile when you were young? Whenever somebody said, “Say cheese” or “Smile for the camera,” you were always ready. Flashing those pearly whites was such an easy and natural thing to do.
But, as you age and enter adulthood, things change. You suddenly become self-conscious of your smile, worrying about an overlooked cavity or hidden plaque. If nothing else, the discoloured, yellowing teeth or crocked bottom incisors are enough to make you cringe in embarrassment, and you find yourself sealing your lips with a tight-lipped, closed-mouth smile instead.
This behaviour should be a cause for concern. After all, your smile is an essential part of your outward appearance and can affect how others perceive you. A confident, healthy-looking smile can make a great first impression, boost your confidence in social situations, and help you feel better about yourself.
On the other hand, a dull, unkempt smile can make you feel insecure and even knock your self-esteem. Poor oral health is also linked to severe medical conditions such as diabetes, strokes, and heart disease and negatively affects overall health.
Here are a few tips for maintaining oral health and keeping your smile looking its best.
- Examine your teeth for irregularities
Look closely at your teeth in the mirror. Are there any cracks, chips, underbites, or overbites? Do you see gaps between your teeth or find crowded teeth that overlap?
If so, it’s time to book an appointment with a professional orthodontist. Your teeth are misaligned and need immediate attention.
Unsurprisingly, residents in Florida suffer from various dental issues. A survey in 2019 reported $624 million in preventable hospital admissions for oral health purposes. Invisalign treatment can help straighten your teeth, improve your bite, and restore the natural beauty of your smile. But look for experts in your region that don’t charge excessively for it. For instance, if you’re in Florida, the Invisalign cost in Florida is relatively affordable.
Invisalign is better than traditional braces due to its convenience, comfort, and effectiveness.
- Brush regularly with the right toothpaste and toothbrush
If you’re brushing regularly with just any toothpaste and toothbrush, you may not get the best results. Your teeth would still be at risk of developing cavities and other dental issues, and you won’t be able to achieve a brighter, whiter smile.
It’s best to use fluoride toothpaste that contains ingredients like sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride, or potassium nitrate. Fluoride helps prevent cavities from developing and can also help reverse early signs of decay.
When toothbrush shopping, look for one with soft, end-rounded bristles and a small head – these will be gentler on your gums and teeth while effectively removing plaque buildup. If you tend to brush too hard, consider a toothbrush with an ergonomic handle to better control the pressure.
Remember to brush twice a day and replace your toothbrush every three months. If your toothbrush starts to look frayed and worn, replace it sooner.
- Don’t forget to floss
While most people consider flossing an “optional” activity, it is an integral part of oral hygiene and should not be skipped. Flossing can help remove food particles between your teeth and gums, which can help reduce the development of plaque and bacteria.
How to floss properly:
- Wrap the floss around your middle fingers
- Gently slide the floss between two teeth and form a C-shape with the floss
- Move the floss up and down on each side of both teeth in a sawing motion
- Unwrap the floss from one tooth and re-wrap it around the other finger to repeat the same process on each side of your teeth
- When you’re done, floss the back side of your last tooth
- Rinse or gargle with water to remove any remaining food particles
It is vital to floss gently and not press too hard into the gums, as this can cause irritation or damage to the gums. Use a different area of the floss for a new pair of teeth to prevent the spread of bacteria and plaque from one area to another.
- Avoid sugary snacks
Tooth decay and cavities are amongst the top oral health problem in children and adults, and sugary snacks can play a significant part. Every time you consume sugar, the bacteria on your teeth feed on it and produce acid, which can erode tooth enamel.
Avoid sugary snacks and choose carrots, apples, and celery over cookies, cakes, and candy. You can also substitute sugary drinks like soda for water or low-fat milk.
According to the ADA, your daily intake of sugar should not exceed 10 percent of your caloric needs. Otherwise, you’re at increased risk of developing cavities and other oral problems.
- Scrape your tongue
Your tongue can trap bacteria and food particles just as much as your teeth. It leads to bad breath, sores, and other oral health issues.
Scraping your tongue is easy and can help reduce bacteria buildup and improve oral hygiene. You can purchase a tongue scraper from your local drug store or pharmacy, explicitly designed to scrape away bacteria and debris from your tongue. Some toothbrushes even come with tongue scrapers built at the back of the brush.
To use a tongue scraper:
- Hold it at the back of your tongue and slowly pull it toward the tip
- Rinse the scraper between each scrape and continue until you reach the end of your tongue
- Repeat this process up to four times
After using the scraper, you can brush your tongue for additional cleaning. Avoid putting too much pressure on your tongue when cleaning, as this could cause irritation or abrasions.
- Quit smoking and drinking
Smoking and drinking are major contributors to bad breath, poor oral health, and tooth decay. Smoking causes the release of free radicals that damage the cells in your mouth, leading to bacteria buildup and bad breath. It can also stain the teeth and cause gum disease, leading to tooth loss.
Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it dries your mouth and causes the body to excrete more water than it takes in. It can lead to dehydration and dry mouth, which reduces saliva production. Saliva plays a vital role in preventing the growth of bacteria in the mouth and keeping your breath fresh.
If you’re serious about improving your oral health, quitting smoking and drinking is essential.
Good oral hygiene is an essential part of overall health and well-being. You can maintain healthy teeth and gums by regular brushing using fluoride toothpaste and small-bristled toothbrush and flossing. Likewise, limiting sugary foods intake will help maintain oral health, and you’ll be smiling confidently in no time.