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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Smiles Kid

A Healthy Smile Starts at an Early Age

Few things are as wonderful as a child’s smile but keeping that smile healthy takes some effort. While their first set of teeth do fall out, not learning to brush or floss now leads to bad habits later. Tooth decay and infections can evolve into much more harmful diseases, but there are things you can do to get kids started on a path to good oral health.

Some Toothy Truths

  • Tooth decay, or cavities, is one of the most chronic childhood conditions in the United States.
  • It can cause extreme pain or even illness that could make it hard to eat, speak, and learn.
  • Around one in five children aged 5 to 11 has at least one untreated cavity.
  • Most bottled waters don’t contain fluoride, yet 69% of Americans get fluoride through local drinking water.
Happy Baby

Baby Teeth Tips

Keep a close eye on your baby’s teeth as soon as they come in. Talk to a dentist if you notice differences in color on the teeth, or stains or spots. Use a baby-specific toothbrush or washcloth to clean a baby’s teeth. Don’t start using toothpaste until they turn 2 years old.

Other tips:

  • Don’t leave a bottle with the baby at night or during naptime.
  • Never coat pacifiers with jelly, honey, or other sugary foods.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and juices and give your baby water instead. It’s a good habit and will help avoid childhood obesity.
  • Teach your child how to drink from an open cup near their first birthday.
  • Make sure they’ve seen a dentist between the appearance of their first tooth and before their first birthday.
Father and Son Brushing Their Teeth

Tooth Care as Children Grow

Usually, kids can’t wait for you to treat them like adults. Maybe they should start with their adult teeth. Help them create good oral hygiene routines for when those adult teeth start coming in.

Use fluoride toothpaste This is the best way to combat tooth decay. Studies have shown its 33% more effective than non-fluoride toothpaste. It is recommended everyone brush for two minutes, moving to different parts of the mouth. Parents and guardians should supervise children’s brushing habits until they’re old enough to brush solo.

Be consistent It’s best for kids to brush after every meal to get rid of bacteria that could harm teeth. They should at least brush each morning before school and each night before bed.

Floss Flossing each night cleans out those areas between teeth that are hard to get to. By starting at the gum line, they also remove plaque. Everyone should floss.

See your dentist The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommend 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 It sounds great, but most active whitening toothpastes have chemicals that can wear down the protective out layer on teeth. Just stick with fluoride toothpaste.

Pay attention If your child says their teeth hurt, get it checked out. It could be an infection that can spread from the tooth to other parts of the mouth or head.

Little Girl Smiling in a Garden

Give Us a Smile

Following these steps will get your kids on the path to having a healthy smile and those are great to show off.

If you can’t remember the last time your kids went to the dentist, schedule an appointment at AltaMed. Locations are inside the same places where you get medical care, women’s health services, and the other care your family need 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