13 Ways to Take Care of Your Smile in 2013

Your smile can be one of your best assets; in fact, many people say it’s the first thing they notice about strangers. We’ve assembled 13 tips to help you keep your mouth healthy and make the most of your grin over the next year.

  1. Stop smoking.
    You already knew that, but here’s a reminder why: Smoking makes your teeth yellow and can also lead to gum disease, tooth loss and oral cancers.1
  2. Keep regular dental appointments. If you avoid the dentist now, you may develop dental problems that require more complicated treatments later on.2
  3. Brush your tongue. Just like your teeth, your tongue holds a plethora of food and bacteria that can cause bad odors if left untreated. Buy a tongue scraper or be sure to give your tongue a good brushing every time you have your toothbrush out.3
  4. Don’t neglect the molar teeth in the very back of your mouth. Because they do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to chewing, molars get just as dirty as the rest of your teeth, if not more so. Despite this, they seem to get less toothbrush time than other teeth. Pay extra attention to the sides next to the tongue.4
  5. Floss more. If you’re not flossing at least once a day, you’re not flossing enough. It’s the single best way to remove plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. Use about 18 inches of floss per session.5
  6. Switch to gum with xylitol. Yes, you can chew gum. If the main sweetener is xylitol, regular use may actually stop bacteria from sticking to tooth enamel. Your second-best bet is sugar-free gum, which doesn’t promote tooth decay and can help get saliva flowing to wash away food particles from teeth.6
  7. Rinse with water after eating. It’s usually inconvenient to brush after eating, but even rinsing with water helps wash food and debris from your teeth, and denies cavity-causing bacteria a meal. It also keeps your mouth moist, which helps prevent dry mouth and bad breath.7
  8. Use a mouthguard. Although they’re required for many high-impact sports such as football and ice hockey, they should be used in any sport that may pose risks to your teeth, including basketball, cycling, gymnastics, skateboarding and more. Don’t have a mouthguard? Talk with your dentist about having one made or other options, like store-bought mouthguards.8
  9. Stop chewing your nails. It’s bad for your teeth and your hands. Nail biting has been linked to other behaviors that are bad for your mouth, such as teeth grinding and jaw clenching.9
  10. Stop bad breath. Occasional halitosis, or bad breath, is pretty common. It can be caused by coffee, onions, garlic and other strong-smelling foods and drinks. If your bad breath persists long after these culprits are gone, consider talking with your dentist to determine the cause – tobacco use, prescription medication, your diet or even systemic illnesses may be the reason.10
  11. Your teeth are not scissors. Don’t use them to rip open packages. Using your teeth as tools can lead to a cracked tooth, which may mean a root canal or even an extraction. Use something else to open sealed bags or turn tight bottle caps.11
  12. De-stress. People who clench or grind their teeth often do so because of stress. Try to de-stress by eating right, getting regular exercise and making it a point to relax your face and jaw muscles several times throughout the day.12
  13. Smile more. Smiling – even forced smiling – has been scientifically proven to improve your mood. Smiles are contagious, so not only will you feel happier, you might brighten someone else’s day as well.13

1 http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Search/22,21259
2 http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Search/22,21443
3 http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Search/22,DD115
4 http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Search/22,HD9
5 http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Search/22,Delta40
6 http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Search/22,HD24
7 http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Search/22,Delta24
8 http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Search/22,21544
9 http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Search/22,Delta4
10 http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Search/22,DD21
11 http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/adult/OralSafety/22,Delta108
12 http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/adult/OralConditions/22,Delta112
13 http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201207/smile-powerful-tool


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