Five Steps to a Healthy Smile

A healthy body includes a healthy mouth.

Step 1. Watch what you put in your mouth!

What you eat and drink and how often can affect your health.  Eat a balanced diet for good overall health, selecting a variety of foods from the five main food groups (breads, cereals, and other grain products; fruits; vegetables; meat, poultry, fish, and alternatives; milk, cheese, and yogurt).  Limit the sugary foods and drinks you consume, and if you do eat or drink them, do so with meals.  Saliva production increases during meals and helps rinse food particles from the mouth and neutralize acid produced by bacteria that causes tooth decay.

Sip and snack all day?  Risk decay!  Limit between-meal snacks and sugary beverages.  If you crave a snack, choose nutritious foods and a glass of water, and consider chewing sugarless gum afterward.  Sugarless gum increases saliva flow and helps wash out food and decay-inducing acid produced by bacterial found in dental plaque.

Step 2. Keep your mouth clean!

Brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.  Clean between your teeth daily with floss or another type of inter dental cleaner not remove food particles and plaque from under the gum line and between teeth - places your toothbrush can't reach.  When choosing oral care products, look for the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, your assurance that the produce has met ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness.

Step 3. Visit your dentist regularly for professional teeth cleaning and oral exams.

Even if you do a thorough job brushing and cleaning between your teeth each day, your teeth need a deserve a regular professional cleaning at the dental office.  Professional cleaning helps remove stains, plaque and tartar from your teeth, helps prevent periodontal (gum) disease and keeps your smile looking great!  During the oral exam, your dentist will check for tooth decay, including decay around old filings and decay of tooth roots.

Step 4. Avoid tobacco - bad news in any form.

If you use any form of tobacco - including smoking and smokeless forms of tobacco - you are setting yourself up for trouble.  Tobacco use not only causes bad breath but also brings cancer-causing chemicals in direct contact with your tongue, gums, and the inside of your cheek.  Because the early signs of oral cancer usually are not painful, people may not notice them.  During a dental examination, your dentist can screen for changes in the oral tissues and thus help detect cancer at a stage when it can be more successfully treated.  Ask your dentist or physician for advice on quitting tobacco use.

Step 5. Give your smile a sporting chance! Wear a mouthguard.

A properly fitted mouthguard, or mouth protector, is an important piece of athletic gear that can help protect your smile, and should be used during any activity that could result in a blow to the face or mouth.  Mouthguards help prevent broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw.  A properly fitted mouthguard will stay in place while you are wearing it, making it easy for you to talk and breathe.