Healthy Smile Tips for Life

Healthy smiles make great impressions! To keep your mouth in good condition,

  • Always brush twice a day,
  • Clean between your teeth daily,
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks, and
  • Visit your dentist regularly for a dental exam and professional teeth cleaning.

Good oral care is part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to keep your teeth and gums in good health. A simple routine of daily teeth cleaning, good eating habits and regular dental visits can help prevent tooth decay (cavities) and gum disease.

What causes tooth decay and gum disease?

Your teeth are covered with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque (sounds like PLAK). After a meal or snack, these bacteria convert the sugar in foods into acids. These acids attack the enamel, the tooth’s hard outer layer. Repeated attacks can cause the enamel to break down and lead to cavities.

If you brush twice a day and floss once a day, you can remove most of the harmful plaque and bacteria. But if plaque stays on the teeth, it will eventually harden into tartar. It is harder to brush and floss when tartar builds up near the gumline.

Plaque that is not removed can also irritate and inflame your gums, making them swell or bleed. This is called gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. The good news is that gingivitis can be reversed with professional dental cleaning and good oral hygiene at home.

If gum disease is left untreated, it can cause your gums to pull away from the teeth. Pockets or spaces can form between the teeth and gums. These pockets can become infected. In advanced stages of gum disease, bone loss can occur and teeth may become loose, fall out or have to be pulled.

You can prevent both tooth decay and gum disease by always remembering to brush twice a day and floss daily. It is much easier and less expensive to prevent disease and decay than to treat them!

What are some tips for brushing teeth properly?

Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay. Fluoride (FLOOR-ide) is a mineral that helps make tooth enamel stronger. There is more than one way to brush your teeth, so it’s a good idea to ask your dentist which one to use.

Why do I need to clean between my teeth?

Even if you brush twice a day, there are places your toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Flossing removes plaque and food particles from between teeth and under the gumline. Your dentist or hygienist can show you the right way to floss. It may feel clumsy at first, but don’t give up. It takes time to get the hang of it.

If you haven’t been flossing, you may experience sore or bleeding gums for the first five or so days that you floss. This should stop once the plaque is broken up and the bacteria are removed. If bleeding does not stop, see your dentist.

If you have trouble handling floss, you may wish to try a floss holder or another type of interdental cleaning aid. Interdental cleaners include narrow brushes, picks, or sticks used to remove plaque from between teeth. Your dentist or hygienist can tell you how to use these special cleaners.