Bright, healthy teeth say as much about you as your hairstyle or your makeup. Modern technology can buff, bond or brace almost any dental problem. But it won't replace regular checkups and daily care. Those are your responsibility. The results tell the world you have confidence and loads of self-esteem. Here is a roundup of old-fashioned, common-sense tips to help you make the most of your enchanting smile.
Sure, you've heard it before, but it's worth repeating:
• Brush twice daily (especially before you go to bed)
• Use a soft brush with rounded bristles
• Brush (don't scrub!) for two and a half to three minutes every time
• Remember to floss at least once a day
Whether you finish with a mouth rinse probably depends on what you're doing next. Says Dr. John Diggens of Vancouver, President of the Canadian Dental Association (CDA): "A mouthwash is a confidence builder."
In the pink
Since fluoride was added to drinking water in North America some five decades ago, fewer people in younger age groups get cavities. But fluoride can't protect against gum disease, which may begin at about age 25. The signs are hard to miss:
• Gums that regularly bleed with brushing or flossing
• Swollen or sore gums
• Persistent bad breath
• Sensitive teeth
Women are more susceptible: gum tissue responds to hormonal fluctuations and can become tender and swollen during menstruation and pregnancy.
Diggens says active management is the key: "If you brush and floss every day, you'll have no trouble keeping gum disease away."
Flossing helps to remove plaque -- a sticky bacteria film that coats the teeth -- from under the gum line and between the teeth. Plaque eventually hardens into tartar, which gradually erodes gum tissue like road salt that clings to your car over a period of time and ruins its paint job.
No matter how scrupulously you care for your teeth, some tartar will accumulate. That's why a checkup with a cleaning by the hygienist twice a year is recommended. These visits cost between $80 and $200, depending on whether X-rays are taken, and are covered under most dental plans. And they are worth every penny. Says Diggens: "They keep you from paying much more for treatment."
In other words, if you want pretty, pearly whites, the kind that make a big first impression, just think of your teeth as a must-have accessory and your dentist as your new best friend.
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