Most of us were probably admonished to “brush and floss” by our parents, dentists, and other well-meaning adults. Yet, many of us don’t pay as close attention to our dental care as maybe we should. Almost 80% of us will have a cavity by the time we’re 17 and the average time between dentist appointments is three years — even though we’re supposed to get our teeth cleaned every six months. There are constantly advertisements for teeth whitening systems, brighter teeth, and a more even smile, which makes sense, given that almost all adults believe that a healthy smile is important to one’s social life, according to a study by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. So why aren’t we paying better attention to our dental care? And how can we take better care of our teeth moving forward?
Ashamed Of Your Teeth? You’re Not Alone
Over 30% of people say that they’re worried about the way their teeth look and almost 20% actually hide their teeth in photos. Given that almost three-quarters of Americans have some type of periodontal disease and over 30 million Americans are missing all their teeth in one or both of their jaws, perhaps this isn’t surprising. We spend almost $1.5 billion on teeth whitening products every year.
Interestingly, over 95% of adults say that they believe an attractive smile makes someone more appealing to members of the opposite sex and almost three-quarters of the population believe that an unattractive smile can actually have a negative impact on their career success.
However, you shouldn’t feel ostracized or alone because of a smile that needs a little work. There are easy ways to make your smile look healthy and attractive and plenty of ways to maintain your smile.
What Do Good Dental Care Practices Look Like?
Visiting your dentist at least once a year — twice a year is better — is imperative. Your dentist will give you a thorough cleaning and inspection. He or she may be able to let you know if trouble is brewing — wisdom teeth, weakness in your teeth, jaw trouble, etc., — and provide a referral to a specialist if necessary. Letting your dental health lapse has recently proven to be dangerous, as it’s linked to heart-related issues, among other things.
Be sure to brush and floss daily, preferably after every meal. Your doctor may suggest a specific kind of toothpaste or toothbrush to use for maximum effects. Just doing one or the other doesn’t provide the kind of coverage you need for healthy teeth. Certain kinds of foods or beverages can stain — like coffee, tea, or wine —
and super sugary or sticky foods can often be bad for your teeth, especially if you have fillings.
In short, staying up to date with your dentist and carrying out regular preventive measures to keep your teeth healthy can go a long way.
What If My Smile Still Isn’t Perfect?
There are loads of specialists from orthodontists to cosmetic dentists, who can help you achieve the smile you’re dreaming of. Whether you need braces, implants, fillings, or veneers, they can help get your smile back on track. In some cases, seeking out this kind of correction can reduce stress or pain in your jaw and keep your teeth from being ground down.
If you’re looking for a whiter smile, there are also plenty of whitening options you can purchase and do yourself at home, which may be more economically feasible for some people. Do remember though, that you still need to keep up with your smile, even if you have work done.
Don’t neglect your teeth! Your smile can be a valuable asset both personally and professionally. If you practice good dental care and take care of your teeth now, you won’t have to put as much work into them as you get older — and having all your original teeth when you get old is something to be proud of.