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Top Four Ways to Care for Your Smile

Dr. Degel Jul 18, 2016

A toothbrush with toothpaste and a dental mirrorA beautiful smile is a well cared for smile. Proper dental care helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss, keeping the smile healthy and beautiful for years to come. General dentistry treatments are an integral part of every dental care routine, and can protect your oral health at every age. Although it's important to see your dentist regularly to maintain a healthy smile, when it comes to oral health, you play a major role. Discover the top four ways to care for your smile in this overview from Queens, NY dentists Carmen Every Degel and Clifford Degel.

1. Brush Your Teeth Using Proper Brushing Techniques

Most people are aware that the teeth need to be brushed at least twice a day, but many neglect proper brushing techniques, decreasing the effectiveness of brushing. When performed properly, brushing is a great way to remove plaque, bacteria, and food debris, helping to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

To properly and effectively brush the teeth, hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward the gum line. Use small, circular motions along all surfaces of each tooth, paying particular care to reach the back teeth where plaque tends to accummulate. Don't speed through brushing. Instead, spend at least two minutes brushing the teeth. Singing a two-minute song or setting a two-minute timer can help ensure you brush for the necessary time.

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent damage to the enamel and change your toothbrush at least every three months. Although it's most beneficial to brush after every meal, that's not always possible. At a minimum, the teeth should be brushed twice a day, preferably once in the morning and once before bed.

2. Floss, Floss, Floss

Flossing is just as important as brushing the teeth, yet so many people skip this essential practice. Some people stop flossing because they experience gum bleeding. In fact, bleeding gums indicate that gum disease may be present, and flossing daily can help to stop this bleeding.

Flossing reduces the risk of gum disease and tooth decay by removing plaque and bacteria where brushing alone can't reach. If you do not floss at least once a day, plaque is allowed to stay on the teeth, hardening into tartar, the calcified form of plaque, leading to gum disease and pockets developing between the gums and teeth.

To properly floss, simply cut a length of floss long enough to wrap around both index fingers. Wrap both ends of the floss around the index fingers, leaving about a two-inch length of floss between the fingers. Slide the floss along each side of each tooth, slightly wrapping the floss around the base of the tooth and under the gum line. Slide the floss up and down the full length of each tooth two or three times. As the floss wears and collects debris, use a new portion of floss.

3. Limit Sugary, Starchy, and Acidic Foods and Drinks

Sugary, starchy, and acidic foods and drinks increase the risk of tooth decay. The bacteria found in plaque consume sugar and release acid, starchy foods cause plaque to become sticky, and acids from plaque bacteria and foods and drinks erode the enamel. Limiting sugary, starchy, and acidic foods and drinks, like soft drinks, coffee, and candies, can help protect the teeth from tooth decay.

When you do eat or drink these types of foods, rinse the mouth with water or brush the teeth to remove damaging sugars, acids, and starches. Also, using a straw to drink sodas, citrus juices, or other sugary, acidic beverages can help reduce contact with the teeth, reducing the risk of tooth decay. 

4. See Your Dentist Every Six Months

Dental exams and professional cleanings should be scheduled at least every six months. Regular exams are important for preventing dental damage and catching any signs of an oral health problem early and while it's most easily treated. Professional cleanings are also important to oral health because they keep the teeth free of plaque and tartar buildup, catching areas where brushing and flossing at home can often miss.

Schedule a Consultation

For more dental care tips, or to discover your treatment options, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Drs. Every Degel and Degel.

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