New Year, New Smile

Stephanie B. Swords, DDSUncategorized

This year, do yourself, and your teeth a favor– Make a commitment to maintain or improve your smile. Put dental health on your resolution list for 2015.

1. Take care of pending dental treatment.

Make 2015 the year to complete dental work you’ve been putting off. By postponing treatment, your dental condition may worsen, leading to more comprehensive and expensive treatment in the future.

2. Brush up on your oral hygiene routine.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Soft bristles are gentle enough to clean your teeth and gums without any irritation or damage. Flossing daily helps remove plaque from areas between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. Plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into calculus, causing gingivitis, and eventually periodontitis. Flossing also helps prevent cavities. There are different types of floss available depending on your needs, so it is important to ask your dentist which type of floss is best for you.

3. Chew sugar-free gum.

Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. The physical act of chewing gum stimulates saliva flow, which helps rinse away food particles and acid from your teeth. Sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol also has the added benefit of combating the harmful effects of cavity-causing bacteria.

4. Stop using your teeth as tools.

Your teeth are meant for chewing food, but not for ripping plastic packages open. Tearing open a bag of potato chips or popping bottle caps off with your teeth, biting your fingernails, gnawing on pens and pencils, ice, popcorn kernels, or other hard objects can all put undue stress on your teeth, causing cracks or fractures. Using your teeth for tasks other than chewing can traumatize and weaken your teeth, which can be detrimental to your dental health over time. Be mindful of what you put in your mouth and keep real tools handy to do the difficult tasks your teeth are not meant to do.

5. Trade in your toothbrush every three months.

If the bristles on your toothbrush look bent or frayed, it’s time for a new one. Worn bristles will not clean your teeth and gums adequately. Many brushes feature indicator bristles that change color after a few months of use to remind you that it’s time to replace your toothbrush.