What’s in a smile? Surprisingly, it was Charles Darwin who was one of the first people to examine the science of a smile and study its purpose. Unlike other body language, which differs from culture to culture, a smile is globally recognised amongst all humans and is one of the most direct and effective methods of communication we have.
We usually smile when we are happy, but did you know that it works in reverse? We are happier when we smile. Our brains interpret our smile as happiness, reacting to this information accordingly by lifting our mood.
Smiles are also infectious. We respond to genuine smiles in a reflexive way, which can generate happiness and positivity for everyone involved. A healthy smile makes you feel better, boosting your self-esteem and confidence. We need to make sure that our smiles truly reflect what we feel, by having the confidence to smile without restraint. So, what can we do to improve our smiles?
These five steps may sound basic, but it’s simply a question of maintaining good habits and routine in your everyday life. We have created a list of healthy practices for you to take on board:
1. Invest in decent tools Find yourself a good quality toothbrush – preferably electric. You need to be brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time, with a fluoride toothpaste to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Make sure you remember to replace the brush head every three months.
Interdental brushes and floss will make it easier to clean crevices that a brush can’t fully access. You will reduce the build-up of food and plaque between your teeth that can eventually lead to cavities and gum disease.
Mouthwash and sugar-free chewing gum are both useful ways of freshening your breath and protecting your teeth between meals. Avoid using mouthwash after brushing your teeth as it will wash away the fluoride.
2. Make regular dental appointments It sounds obvious, but we dentists can spot potential problems early on in their development before they become a larger issue. If you have a dental-related concern, book that appointment. Do not put it off. Dental problems do not simply disappear on their own. Postponing a visit to us will simply exacerbate the issue and increase your discomfort and the cost of treatment. There is also potential for infections to spread to other areas of the mouth and body. Therefore, act quickly on your concerns!
Sticking to a regular schedule of check-ups every six months will give you peace of mind. Our hygienists will remove tartar and staining from your teeth that you may have missed. Furthermore, because many health conditions manifest themselves in the mouth, you are additionally being screened for potential wider problems such as oral cancer.
3. Keep to a healthy diet A varied diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fresh fruit and vegetables can help to prevent gum disease. To avoid unnecessarily exposing our teeth throughout the day to continuous acid in our mouths, it is best to avoid snacking and stick to eating during your three mealtimes only.
Many foods and drinks contain tannins, which stain your teeth. Tea, coffee, red wine, cola and curry are just a few of the major culprits. To try to reduce the impact of staining, you could also try to drink a glass of water after eating or drinking, to wash away any lingering residue.
Sugar intake ideally needs to be kept to a minimum as sugar creates excessive acid which aggressively attacks the tooth enamel, rapidly increasing your chances of cavities and tooth decay. Try eating lots of crunchy fruit and vegetables like apples, carrots and celery – these are both saliva boosters, and as saliva neutralises the acid in your mouth they work well at protecting your teeth.
Top Tip: Using a straw when drinking pushes staining liquids to the back of the mouth rather than coating your teeth.
4. Stop smoking Stopping smoking is an obvious health benefit for many reasons… but with specific regard to teeth, smoke can cause a stain that soaks deeply into the tooth enamel. It also damages healthy gums, which creates pockets of space around the teeth. This effect can make the teeth appear longer with dark spaces around them and make them loose. Smoking also makes it very difficult to reverse the effect of effects of gum disease.
5. Tooth whitening If you would like some professional advice and assistance in whitening your teeth, please feel free to make an appointment with us here at the practice. We offer a safe, simple and affordable treatment for our patients.
A healthy smile is a winning smile. It makes you feel better and makes others positively respond to you. We must look after our smiles, and they will look after us in return! If you have any questions regarding your smile, please feel free to call us on 020 8958 0136 to discuss further.