Healthy Habits to Keep Your Smile Bright

Here’s a trivia question — how many teeth will you have in your lifetime? The answer, like the number of weeks in a year, is 52. As we age, we’ll grow 20 baby teeth replaced by 32 permanent or “adult” teeth. Taking good care of them is a year-round job.

Our smiles, when maintained properly, will last us our entire lives. On top of that, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep them looking brilliant. It all starts with healthy habits like brushing and flossing — when we’re young. However, it’s never too late to get to working on a better, brighter smile.

Here are some simple tips to set you up for success.

It’s in the Water

Drinking tap water is the healthiest thing you can drink for your smile. Most city water has the recommended daily dose of fluoride. It strengthens teeth and flushes away debris, slowing tooth decay. Sugary and acidic drinks can damage teeth. Even sports drinks can be harmful. Water is the sugar-free pause that refreshes. 

Brush AND Floss

Brushing is good, but that only affects your teeth’s surface. Flossing gets in-between teeth where they’re vulnerable. You’ve felt the occasional piece of popcorn wedged between your teeth. Imagine all the things you can’t feel. Brushing twice and flossing once daily are the perfect combination for a healthy smile. Your gums may be sensitive and bleed a little if flossing is new to you. But it stops quickly and should end completely after two weeks.

See Your Dentist

Your mouth needs its annual checkup just like the rest of you. This is the time for your dentist to ask questions, look for changes, and for you to get your teeth professionally cleaned. You should also see your dentist if you are having any issues. Don’t let tooth pain, dry mouth, bad breath, or any other oral condition go for too long. The mouth is truly the gateway to your body and what happens there can be an indicator of more serious problems, like diabetes or heart disease.

Stop with the Tobacco

Beautiful teeth are just ANOTHER reason not to use tobacco products. The benefits of quitting have been written about time and time again. In addition to being a killer, cigarette smoke dulls your smile. Chewing tobacco, snuff, and dip can leave behind pieces of tobacco and residue and eventually lead to mouth cancer. It’s not worth the risk.

Beware of Certain Beverages

Sugary drinks can cause tooth decay while others can lead to stained teeth. Coffee, tea, and red wine can discolor your teeth. It can be polished off at the dentist’s office but can also seep into the enamel on your teeth over time. Rinsing your mouth with water after having these beverages will help reduce the risk of staining.

Watch How You Whiten

Not all whitening systems are created equal. Rinses, strips, toothpaste, and trays are all options. Some are better for one problem but won’t address another. Read labels carefully and talk to your dentist or hygienist.  

Get the Right Brush

Electric toothbrushes are ideal but not required to get a good brushing. Dentists recommend soft bristled manual brushes if you don’t want to buy electric. Medium and hard brushes are too rough and can wear away your enamel and cause gums to recede.

Trust Us with Your Teeth

These tips will help you keep your smile bright all on your own. When it’s time to see a professional, make sure you call AltaMed. Our dental offices are conveniently located inside the same locations that provide checkups, women’s health services, and all the other care you and your family need to growth healthy. Call AltaMed at (877) 462-2582 to get started today.

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A young boy brushes his teeth in the bathroom.

It’s National Children’s Dental Health Month

When it comes to children, it can be easy to overlook oral hygiene. After all, they enter the world without teeth, then lose the first set they get. The truth is, caring for your kids’ gums and teeth is essential for their overall health. It also establishes good habits they will take with them throughout life.

That’s the goal of National Children’s Dental Health Month, established by the American Dental Association. Getting a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums involves developing good habits at an early age.

Tooth Truths

Tooth decay is the most common preventable chronic disease among U.S. children according to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. It can damage a child’s physical and social development along with their school performance if left untreated.

Cavities hurt, can lead to infections, and can result in problems eating, speaking, and learning.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 20% of children from 2 to 5 years old have at least one cavity in their baby teeth. Furthermore, children from low-income families are more than twice as likely to have untreated cavities than kids from higher-income households.

Here’s what you can do about kids’ teeth.

Pearly Whites at an Early Age

To help keep your family’s smiles bright and healthy, think P-E-A-R-L-S:

  • Pregnancy is where good oral health starts. Expectant mothers are more susceptible to cavities and gum disease. They can pass their baby the bacteria that causes gum disease. So, it’s important to schedule a dental checkup before delivery.
  • Ensure that your baby’s gums are wiped after every meal.
  • Avoid putting babies to bed with a bottle or coating pacifiers with jelly or honey.
  • Remember to brush your child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Consult a pediatrician or dentist about when to use fluoride toothpaste if the child is under 2 years old.
  • Limit sugary drinks, candy, cookies, and fruit snacks. Encourage more veggies.
  • Schedule their first dental visit after their first tooth appears or by their first birthday.
A teenage girl puts toothpaste on a toothbrush.

Beyond Baby Teeth

Kids are usually eager to grow up and act like adults. Care for your teeth well and be an example for how they should treat their adult teeth as those start coming in. They should:

  • Use fluoride toothpaste  This is the best way to combat tooth decay. Studies have shown it’s 33% more effective than non-fluoride toothpaste. Everyone should brush for two minutes, moving to different parts of the mouth. Adults should supervise children’s brushing habits until they’re old enough to brush alone.
  • Be consistent  Ideally kids would brush after each meal to get rid of harmful bacteria that could hurt teeth. They should minimally brush each morning before school and each night before bed.
  • Floss  Flossing at night cleans out the spaces between teeth that are hard to reach. It also removes plaque when you start at the gum line. Everyone should floss.
  • See the dentist  The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children have two checkups per year. Schedule their next visit if you can’t remember the last time they went.
  • No need for whitening toothpaste  Most active whitening toothpastes have chemicals that can wear down the protective outer layer on teeth.
  • Pay attention  Get your child to the dentist if they say their teeth hurt. It could be an infection that can spread from the tooth to other parts of the mouth or head.

A Reason to Smile

Following these steps will get your kids on the path to happier teeth.

AltaMed makes it easy to protect your family’s dental health. Checkups are available at the same locations where you get medical care, women’s health services, and the other services your family needs to grow healthy. Schedule an appointment at (888) 499-9303.

Woman Teeth

Healthy Dental Habits Keep Diabetes and Heart Disease at Bay

Your mouth is literally the gateway to the rest of your body. It is the fueling port where we consume our food, beverages, and most medications. The digestive and respiratory tracts are accessed through the mouth.

Too often, our thoughts about the role our mouth plays in our overall health end with what we eat and drink. But practicing proper dental hygiene — brushing, flossing, and getting regular dental checkups — helps us maintain our overall health. Diabetes, heart disease, pneumonia, and birth complications are some of the conditions associated with poor dental health.

It Starts with Bacteria

Dentist Showing Dental Model

We introduce foreign objects into our bodies whenever we eat or drink. We chew, swallow, and move things along into our digestive system where bacteria in our gut break down the food to get the nutrients our bodies need.

Bacteria lives and thrives in dark, warm, moist places – like our mouths. If we don’t brush or floss regularly, that bacteria will grow unchecked fueled by the remnants of what we eat and drink.

When bacteria build up on our teeth, our gums become prone to infection, and they swell because our immune system is fighting that infection. Left uncontrolled, the chemicals that result from the infection slowly dissolve the gums and bones holding our teeth into place. That is gum disease, also known as periodontitis.

Poor Oral Health Leads to Health Problems

Dentist Showing an X-Ray to His Patient

Gum disease and tooth decay can be the source of intense pain and require expensive dental procedures. But sometimes that’s just the beginning. Over the last decade, research has found connections between oral health and a variety of serious diseases and conditions.

  • Heart disease — Oral bacteria, left to grow, can move their way into your bloodstream and infect the inner lining of your heart valves. These bacteria can also infect arteries, causing them to swell and clog, potentially leading to heart attacks or strokes.
  • Pneumonia — This is just one of the respiratory diseases that can be caused by bacteria from your mouth getting pulled into your lungs.
  • Birth complications — Low birth weight and premature birth have been linked to periodontitis. An infection in the mouth has been shown to hinder development of the fetus.

Health Conditions Contributing to Oral Problems

Dental Instruments

Just as poor dental hygiene can lead to health problems, certain diseases and conditions can contribute to oral problems.

  • Diabetes — People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease, while people with gum disease can develop diabetes. Inflammation in the mouth seems to lower the body’s ability to control blood sugar, which is a problem for people with diabetes. The high blood sugar that can come with diabetes makes it harder for the body to fight infections — including gum infections. Studies have also shown good oral health can improve diabetes control.
  • Osteoporosis — The disease weakens the bones making periodontal bone and tooth loss more likely.
  • Obesity — Studies have shown periodontitis can progress more quickly in people with higher body fat.

Brush Up on Your Dental Routine Basics

Woman Brushing Teeth

Taking just a few minutes each day to properly care for your teeth can pay big rewards by improving your overall health. Good dental hygiene includes:

  • Brushing twice daily with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing daily
  • Using mouthwash to remove bits brushing and flossing may miss
  • Eating a healthful diet and limiting foods with added sugar
  • Replacing your toothbrush at least every three months
  • Avoiding tobacco use – that includes vaping, which may be just as bad for your teeth as eating a candy bar, drinking a soda, and not brushing.
  • Scheduling regular dental checkups and cleanings

Regular cleanings and checkups help you stay on top of any developing situations. Also, few things make you feel as put together as bright, shining, professionally cleaned teeth.

We Can Help

Doctor Showing Radiography to His Patient

AltaMed Dental Services has highly skilled dentists and hygienists to help you maintain your healthy smile or get you back on the path to dental health. Call (888) 499-9303 to make an appointment or get more information online.

Healthy Habits to Keep Your Smile Bright