protect your smile

We all want our smile to last for years to come. But what can we do to prevent oral health issues like gum disease, tooth decay, and more? Here are three simple ways you can protect your smile:

  1. Brush your teeth twice a day
  2. Floss daily
  3. Get your teeth cleaned twice a year

1. Brush Your Teeth Twice a Day

Someone probably told you as a child to brush your teeth twice a day. Maybe it was your parent or a teacher or a pediatric dentist. Whoever it was, they gave you great advice that you can follow for the rest of your life. Brushing your teeth twice a day is as important in adulthood as it was during your childhood.

The reason is because brushing your teeth helps get rid of plaque. Plaque forms when carbohydrates and sugars are left on your teeth. Certain bacteria in your mouth feed on plaque and produce acid as a result. This acid then eats away at the hard, protective outer layer of your teeth known as enamel, causing tooth decay.

You may recognize plaque as the fuzzy feeling on your teeth and/or tongue in the morning before you brush your teeth. Fortunately, brushing your teeth twice a day can get rid of plaque and prevent tooth decay.

How to Brush Your Teeth

Many people ask, “Which is better: an electric toothbrush or a traditional one?” There actually isn’t much of a difference. In fact, if you don’t know how to brush your teeth, you may not benefit much from either one.

There are only two things you need to consider when it comes to buying a toothbrush:

  • Bristles: Make sure to choose a head with soft bristles. If you brush your teeth too hard, you can damage your tooth enamel, undoing the good work you set out to do in the first place. By choosing soft bristles, you give yourself some wiggle room in case you get too enthusiastic while brushing.
  • Size: Most adults will be fine with a normal adult toothbrush. However, if you have a small mouth, you may want to consider a smaller size. The right size of toothbrush will allow you to brush all surfaces of each tooth individually.

When it comes to actually brushing your teeth, make sure to brush for at least two full minutes. One 2009 study showed that most Americans only brush for 45 seconds, but brushing for two minutes removed 26% more plaque.

Armed with this information, you can now decide if an electric or a traditional toothbrush is right for you. For example, if you find yourself struggling to brush for two minutes twice a day, you may want to consider an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer. However, if you know you brush your teeth too hard, a traditional toothbrush with soft bristles may be more forgiving than an electric that’s adding its own pressure to your brushstrokes.

2. Floss Daily

You can’t remove all plaque by brushing. That’s why flossing daily is a little habit that can go a long way in protecting your smile.

Plaque not only causes tooth decay; left untreated, it can also lead to gum disease. If you don’t get rid of plaque on a regular basis, it can harden into tartar. Plaque and tartar buildup can lead to gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease.

3. Get Your Teeth Cleaned Twice a Year

Once plaque progresses into tartar, it cannot be removed by flossing and brushing at home. Only a dental professional can completely clean your teeth and help you prevent gum disease and tooth decay. That’s just one reason why getting your teeth cleaned twice a year is so important to your oral health.

Another reason is that it’s easier to protect your smile when your oral health problems are minor. By getting a teeth cleaning every six months, you’re also giving your dentist a regular opportunity to examine your teeth and gums for any signs of trouble. Regular cleanings mean that if you do have an oral health issue, our dentists can help you fight it in its early stages, saving you time and money.

Schedule an Appointment and Protect Your Smile

Our West Michigan preventative dentists want to help you protect your smile for years to come. With four practices in West Michigan, we have the capability of handling all of your family’s dental needs. To schedule an appointment, call MI Smiles Dental at (616) 974-4990.