Do you cover your mouth when you laugh? Maybe you smile but never show your teeth. If so, you’re not alone. Many people are insecure about the appearance of their smile, which is often the first feature others notice about you.
Along with the quickly approaching holiday season comes office parties, family photos, and maybe even kisses under the mistletoe. Want to make sure you're camera-ready this holiday season? Follow these 5 tips for a healthier, more confident smile!
1. Visit Your Dentist
You should visit your dentist twice a year for routine cleanings and maintenance. Just like with a house or a car, fixing minor tooth and gum problems when they occur decreases the chance of having major problems later. Let’s take a look at some common smile concerns and how your dentist can help.
Stains on your teeth can be caused by a number of things, such as certain foods and drinks, tobacco, and dental plaque. Tea, coffee, red wine, and dark sauces like soy sauce are known to dull your smile. You can minimize staining by drinking through a straw, brushing 30 minutes after eating, or rinsing your mouth with water immediately after eating.
When plaque (the sticky substance that causes cavities) is not properly removed from your teeth, it turns into a hard substance called calculus, or tartar. Calculus is usually yellow, and can even turn brown or black if left on your teeth for a long period of time. The only way calculus and heavy stains can be removed is with a professional dental cleaning. Your dentist may also recommend professional teeth whitening for an even brighter smile.
Missing or Broken Teeth
If you have missing or broken teeth, you may be too embarrassed to smile. The good news is that missing teeth can be replaced with dental implants, bridges, dentures, or partials. Broken teeth may require fillings or crowns. Your dentist will discuss the options that are appropriate for your specific treatment plan. Along with improving looks, taking care of missing and damaged teeth may also alleviate pain and discomfort.
Gum Problems and Bad Breath
If you have gum problems like gingivitis (a mild form of gum disease) or periodontitis (a more severe form of gum disease), your gums may be red, puffy, and irritated. You may also notice bad breath. Your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning, or in some cases gum surgery, to get your gums looking and feeling healthy again. If left untreated, gum disease can cause infection and tooth loss.
2. Practice Good Oral Hygiene
To maintain a healthy smile between dental visits, make sure to take care of your teeth and gums at home. Doing so will reduce the likelihood of staining, cavities, and gum disease. Here are some tips for good oral hygiene:
Brush your teeth and your tongue at least twice a day
Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush (not medium or hard)
Use a fluoride toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association (ADA)
Use an antiseptic, alcohol-free mouthwash
Limit sugary foods and drinks
Avoid any form of tobacco
Chew sugar-free gum after meals
An attractive smile starts with healthy teeth and gums, so practicing good oral hygiene is an important step in getting and keeping the smile you love.
3. Straighten Your Teeth
Another way to improve your smile is to fix crowded, misaligned, or spaced teeth. The benefits of a straight smile go beyond looks. Teeth that aren’t aligned properly are harder to clean, often causing cavities and gum disease. Let’s look at some treatment options for achieving a straight smile.
Today’s traditional (metal) braces are lighter, smaller, and more comfortable. They can also be customized with multi-colored bands. Clear braces are similar to traditional braces, but less noticeable. Clear combo braces offer a mix of metal and clear braces, meaning that you may have clear braces on your top teeth and metal braces on the bottom.
CoastClear Aligners offer an invisible alternative to traditional braces. They are lightweight, discrete, and easy to clean. They can also be removed for eating and brushing. Your orthodontist will let you know if you’re a good candidate for CoastClear Aligners.
Porcelain veneers are thin shells of tooth-colored material that are sometimes used to fill in small gaps between your teeth. They can also be used to correct stained or chipped teeth. Depending on your individual treatment plan, your orthodontist may recommend braces or aligners before veneers are placed.
Remember, your dental team will create a customized treatment plan based on your specific dental needs. Speak to your dentist about the risks and benefits of each treatment option.
4. Eat a Healthy Diet
The same nutrient-rich foods that are healthy for your body are also beneficial for your teeth. Here are some foods and drinks to choose when considering your oral and overall health:
Leafy green vegetables
Low-fat dairy products
Low-sugar vegetable juice
It’s also important to limit consumption of sugary, cavity-causing foods and drinks like candy, soda, and other sweets that have no nutritional value.
5. Quit Bad Habits
The holiday season is a great time to stop bad habits. Your smile will thank you for quitting these unhealthy behaviors:
Smoking or any form of tobacco use is one of the worst things you can do to your teeth. Tobacco causes tooth staining and is linked to tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, and even oral cancer. Your dentist or your medical doctor can talk to you about ways to quit smoking.
Brushing Too Hard
Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can severely damage your teeth and gums. You should use a soft, extra-soft, or electric toothbrush to gently clean your teeth. Medium and hard-bristled toothbrushes are too harsh for teeth and gums.
Using Your Teeth as Tools
Your teeth are not meant for opening packages, removing bottle tops, or trimming your nails. This habit can cause broken or chipped teeth, landing you in your dentist’s office for a costly emergency visit. As a general rule, don’t chew on any non-food items.
Teeth Grinding and Clenching
Teeth grinding and clenching, also known as bruxism, can cause jaw pain and damage to your teeth. Many people are unaware that they grind their teeth because it’s a habit that sometimes happens while you’re sleeping. If you clench or grind your teeth, your dentist can help identify the cause and offer solutions, such as wearing a protective night guard.
Coast Dental wants to make sure your smile is ready for the holidays. Start on your healthy, confident smile today by following these 5 tips:
Visit your dentist at least twice a year
Practice good oral hygiene to maintain healthy teeth and gums
Straighten your smile with options recommended by your dentist and orthodontist
Eat a healthy diet and avoid sugary foods and drinks
Quit bad habits that can be detrimental to your oral and overall health
- - -