Our smiles are one of the most important features, yet perhaps one of the most overlooked. However, thanks to ever growing publicity of celebrities and lifestyle magazines a lot more emphasis has been placed on maintaining our pearly whites.
Dentists have long argued that our oral health is a reflection of overall wellbeing, and there is growing support that 80% of systemic diseases have oral manifestations. So maybe its time you popped along for that check-up.
A beautiful smile doesn't have to be expensive. Most dental treatments can be avoided with a proper oral care routine, and the good news is it's never too late to treat damage that is already done.
For most people this is the staple part of their daily routine, brushing twice a day leads to whiter teeth and improves oral health. When plaque is left to harden on the tooth, forming tartar, teeth become susceptible to decay. This results in the needs for remedial dental work and gum disease.
Adopting a good brushing techinique is also important for the successful removal of plaque, and whiter teeth. The brush should be angled at 45 degress to the gumline, working in small, circular patterns a few teeth at a time.
Flossing is generally overlooked, but can have dramatic results on your oral health and the cleanliness of your teeth as it removes plaque from between the teeth where a toothbrush can't reach. If you floss, you will be cleaning an extra 35% of the tooth surface.
You should floss at least once a day, wrapping the floss around the tooth, working between the teeth up and down all the way to the gumline.
Supplementing brushing with a good mouthwash helps to ensure you are providing the best protection for your teeth.
Brushing and flossing works effectively by removing germs and bacteria from your teeth and gums, but mouthwash kills germs and bacteria making your entire mouth generally healthier. Using mouthwash can help treat gums disease as well as treating bad breath.
Rinsing with mouthwash before brushing can be beneficial as it can dislodge food particles that may be inaccessable when brushing.
Recent studies have indicated that rinsing with a good quality mouthwash can reduce the occurence of plaque by 26%.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener and works with saliva to repair damaged enamel caused by decay.
The bacteria found in the mouth uses sucrose to create lactic acid, lowering the pH levels in the mouth which results in tooth decay and cavaties.
Xylitol helps to create an alkaline environment reducing the effectiveness of the bacteria, and lowering the possibilty of cavaties forming.
Chewing gum also helps to dislodge pieces of food that may be stuck in teeth, again leading to less likelihood of bacteria forming and causing damage to the enamel of the tooth.
One of the most important factors for a healthy, natural smile is the regular consumption of water. Carbonated and sugary drinks cause continuous damage to your teeth which accelerates tooth decay.
Drinking water rinses your teeth to clean them, and as water is pH neutral, it does not create high acidic levels in the mouth which lead to cavities.
Water from the tap is usually better than bottled water as it contains flouride, which may not be contained in most brands of bottled water. Flouride also promotes healthy teeth.
Dark coloured food and drink are weel known for causing a less than desirable smile. Coffee, tea, red wine & other coloured foods can cause unsightly staining that can be difficult to remove as the staining can penetrate the enamal of teeth. This results in darken teeth that are difficult to clean.
Fortunately modern whitening products from most dentist can penetrate the tooth's surface to restore the natural whiteness, or even enhance it.
You can reduce the staining from food and drink by rinsing your mouth with water after a meal.
Maintaing a good oral health routine is a positive step in the right direction. However, there is no substitute for professional treatment.
You should have a dental check-up twice a year. Your dentist will be able to identify any issues early if your teeth are checked regularly.
This can ensure that you don't develop more serious dental problems and that tooth decay is left untreated.
Getting treatment early can prevent having to have costly dental work if a small problem develops into something more serious.
Maintaining your toothbrush is just as important as maintaing your teeth. Modern brushes are designed to be effective at removing build up and stains, but they only work if the bristles are still in optimum condition.
Every 3-4 months consider replacing your brush to keep performing day-to-day. Older brushes can harbour bacteria, which is not ideal to be introducing to your mouth.
Clean your toothbrush thoroughly after use, ensuring the bristles are free from debris and toothpaste.
Teeth whitening has become a popular treatment over the last 5 years, becoming cheaper and more readily available.
There are various forms of teeth whitening treatment available, with varying results.
Home whitening kits and pens can work well for lightly stained teeth.
For more serious staining it is better to seek professional whitening from a cosmetic dentist, as they have access to professional equipment and higher concentrate whitening gels.
It is important to remember that whitening products restore the natural colour of the teeth, and if bad habits persist, such as smoking and consumption of coloured food and drinks, the effects of the whitening products will be less dramatic.
Although primarily used as a cosmetic procedure, braces can have a positive impact on your oral health. Crooked teeth allow bateria to form between teeth where it may be difficult to brush. By straightening teeth with braces, you will be able to care for your teeth more effectively.
For people with crooked teeth, orthodontic treatment can offer the most dramatic and rewarding results, increasing self-confidence and helping to create a perfect smile.
Most orthodontists will offer payment plans or interest free finance, which can be helpful.
With the range of Orthodontic treatment increasing, and the introduction of new products, prices for treatment are becoming more affordable.
Some treatments can be completed for as little as £1500 for upper and lower teeth, a relatively small price to pay for a beautiful smile.
For more information on dental treatments, products, prices and reviews check out the Complete Dental Guide . A great online resource for impartial information.