My BFTDS editor Jennifer is back with another insightful and engaging post. Read on, if you dare!
You put a lot of effort into your beauty routine. From taking great care of your skin, to choosing just the right make up and anti-aging products, and using top-notch tools. Are you doing the same for your most important feature – your smile?
In researching this article, I was surprised to find how few beauty sites and sources mention dental care. Some talk about the latest fad (oil pulling) or the best at-home whitening products (white strips and charcoal toothpaste). But none seem to talk about basic dental care. One beauty writer for a major beauty magazine lamented on how tedious it was to spend a whole 5 minutes at the beginning and end of the day brushing her teeth. She said it was her least favorite beauty task. *sigh* One writer went so far as to say eating pulled pork was just as good as flossing. Um, ewwwww…
Brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste removes plaque, odor-causing bacteria, and helps protect your teeth from future decay. If you’re not flossing regularly, you’re missing 30% of your teeth’s surface. That’s a lot of real estate for plaque and bacteria to make themselves at home. Cleaning between teeth and at the gum line decreases your chances of cavities and tooth decay and significantly improves your gum health. In addition to brushing and flossing, an antiseptic mouthwash like Listerine helps remove any residual bacteria hiding out in your mouth.
Many people avoid the dentist because they fear pain: pain from poking, prodding, drilling and filling and pain in their wallet. But skipping dental visits may actually end up costing you more money. Regular visits to your dentist can help ensure you keep your natural teeth for a lifetime. Exams and x-rays can identify potential problems that you may not see or feel. Cavities, little ones or big ones, don’t go away. Once decay starts, it cannot be reversed. So have your dentist address any concerns as soon as they are diagnosed. It’s much easier to treat and manage problems before they become emergencies or major malfunctions.
Tools of the Trade:
You know what a rotary brush can do for your complexion. An electric toothbrush can do the same for your smile. An electric toothbrush provides a superior clean to a manual brush because it removes food debris and plaque from hard to reach places in your mouth, decreasing your chances of bad breath and tooth decay. A brush with a rotating head is best because it sweeps particles up and away from your teeth and gums.
My dentist let me in on a little secret about toothpaste – 98% are a gimmick. The pretty packaging and claims to whiten your smile and freshen your breath are mostly meant to increase sales. All you need to create a beautiful smile is an electric toothbrush and a basic fluoride toothpaste, like Crest original formula. Baking soda works too. It’s not the toothpaste, but the mechanical action of removing food, plaque, and bacteria that improves your oral health. While that $8 tube of toothpaste may in fact remove some surface staining, your dollars are better spent on an electric brush.
Diet and Your Smile:
Everything that passes your pucker, from the foods you eat, to what you drink, chew, and puff, affects your oral health. Food debris that is not immediately brushed away after eating accumulates in the tiny spaces in and around your teeth. As the food breaks down, bacteria are created and the potential for decay begins. Sugary and acidic drinks are just as harmful and can erode your tooth enamel. Smoking and smokeless tobacco are also extremely damaging to your teeth and gums.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet and drinking lots of water is the best recipe for a healthy smile. If (like me) you can’t commit to eating healthier, at least commit to a better daily dental routine: brush twice daily and after every meal and floss at least once daily. For those times when you just can’t brush immediately after a meal, chew sugarless gum instead. Chewing gum for 20 minutes after a meal increases the saliva flow in your mouth, helping to wash away food debris between teeth.
Having glorious, pearly whites can definitely boost your confidence and self-esteem, but the way your teeth look is only part of the story of your smile. Cosmetic procedures such as whitening and veneers are meant to enhance the look of healthy, functional teeth. Great at-home care and regular visits to your dentist for exams, cleanings, and treatment should be the priority. Whitening unhealthy teeth will not help you in the long run and may contribute to tooth sensitivity.
Teeth are always in style. So do yourself a favor and take care of your choppers while you still have them!