Having a bright, white smile means more than just looking good. If your teeth are clean and healthy it’s likely that all your good dental habits mean you’re also more likely to have strong, healthy gums – and fresh breath too.
And having a healthy mouth brings other benefits too, in terms of self-esteem and self-confidence. It’s also worth remembering that good gum health is also associated with better health overall. Gum disease has often been linked to increased risk of heart disease, although it’s unknown whether the link is direct, or if it’s just that people with poor oral health are generally in less good health.
So, here are our top5 tips for a healthy, happy smile.
5. Watch what you eat. Too many sugary foods can lead to decay because the bacteria in our mouths feast on the sugar, in turn producing acid that erodes our teeth. So keep the sweets to a minimum. Also, try to cut down on – or cut out – things that can lead to your teeth being stained, such as red wine and smoking.
4. Know when to brush. Brushing directly after a meal is counterproductive – this is because if you do, you’re likely to brush any acid further into the tooth surface, and this can speed erosion. So if you’ve had a fizzy drink or a meal, you need to wait for the saliva to neutralise the acid before brushing. After a meal, chewing gum is a healthy option since it helps produce more acid-neutralising saliva and can also help dislodge bits of food that get trapped between the teeth.
3. Don’t assume it’s just sugar that can damage your teeth. If you eat crisps for instance, be aware that bits can adhere to the teeth afterwards. Try a healthy snack instead, like pumpkin seeds or a seed mix.
2. Change your toothbrush regularly – most brands need replaced every two or three months. An old toothbrush just isn’t up to the job of keeping your teeth in top condition, and it’s a very small investment for an important health reward.
1. Develop healthy oral hygiene habits outside of just brushing – if you don’t already, floss your teeth using the recommended techniques. Buy dental mouthwash that contains fluoride and use it, too – this can help prevent decay. And make sure you don’t forget to go for that dental check-up. Your dentist will advise on how soon you’ll need to come back for the next check-up, but it’s often around 6 months, depending on your oral health.
Jen Jones writes on individual dental insurance and nutrition topics for a range of wellbeing websites.