Do you hold your hand over your mouth when you speak or laugh? Are you embarrassed when people see your teeth? Do you fear the comments, or worse yet, the faces of those trying not to make a comment? If so, you probably have bad teeth. Sometimes bad teeth result from genetics and sometimes from lack of care, an accident or even medication.
One of the first things people will notice about you is your smile. People especially notice teeth that look like they have not had proper care taken of them, and tartar build-up is a dead give away. If you have ever tried to talk to someone with nasty teeth, you know how it can distract. Good dental habits are one of the best ways to prevent giving a bad impression to others. It's also a good way to avoid poor health and a future of gumming soft foods or dealing with dentures. The following are some ways you can begin today to take care of your teeth, giving yourself a healthy mouth for a life-time.
1. Make friends with your dentist and hygienist.
See your dentist at least twice each year. Each time you go, a dental hygienist will clean your teeth and give you a fluoride treatment to help strengthen and protect your teeth. Then the dentist will look at your teeth and check for cavities, pockets and other problems.
Once a year, your dentist will take a set of x-rays of your teeth to see if you are developing cavities or other problems. New fiber optic camera systems allow you to see areas of your teeth where stains may be lurking, showing areas that need more diligence.
The dentist will have you come back in if a cavity or other problem is found. More severe problems, such as a pocket in the gum, will net you an appointment with a dental surgeon. Daily maintenance and care of your teeth and gums will likely prevent any such trips for you.
2. Make friends with floss.
Flossing is the only sure way to remove food and other debris from between the teeth where it can become lodged. Use floss at least once a day but more if you can. Flossing daily is one of the best deterrents to poor dental health. Floss comes in many different forms. You can buy it in the usual way or one-use floss stretched across a plastic "pick". This makes flossing much easier to do on a regular basis during the day.
3. Make friends with your toothbrush.
Next we have tooth brushing. The minimum is to brush morning and evening, making sure you are using a brush that has the right level of bristle softness for you. Brushing removes most of the food from the teeth, leaving little for bacteria to use. Use care in brusing that you do not push too hard (wearing away enamel) or always start in the same place. You should brush your teeth for about 2 minutes at a time. For those times when you're out and about, use a wisp or similar toothbrushing substitute after meals. You pop them in your purse or pocket and use them after lunch or when you just need to feel fresh.
4. Make friends with other products that help keep teeth at their best.
Another habit that will help your dental health is the use of products such as Stimudent which can be used after every meal or whenever a brush is not handy. They work similar to a toothpick, but they are softer and made to help reach between the teeth. Using the Stimudent sticks in addition to brushing, flossing and regular dental visits will help keep you from the embarrassment and pain of poor dental health. Stimudents are similar to the types of tooth "brushes" used long ago and in many third-world countries. Research has shown that they work well when combined with other tooth care procedures.
The last two items in your dental health arsenal are a good mouthwash and a tongue scraper. Mouthwash helps rinse out the loosened material after brushing, flossing or picking and usually contains anti-bacterial agents that will reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth. Tongue scraping can help remove food and bacteria and improve your breath.
Sometimes other things such as medications or disease can cause dental problems, but barring these, you can have a healthy mouth for a lifetime by following these maintenance ideas. Daily, diligent maintenance and cleaning of teeth is the most important way to keep your teeth for a lifetime and protect your dental health. You also help prevent other health problems associated with poor dental health. Let your first impression be a healthy, beautiful smile that doesn't distract from that wonderful person you want to share with others.