This Valentine’s Day show some love to one of the most underappreciated things in your life: your smile. Among other reasons they are important, your teeth are reason you can chew delicious food, speak properly, and make a good first impression when you interview for a job. Unfortunately, teeth often go neglected for years. Although they can withstand a great deal of neglect and abuse, they will eventually have problems if you don’t show them a little kindness. To strengthen or rebuild your relationship with your chompers, I suggest the following ideas:
1. Spend time with them. Perhaps the most important things you for your teeth are the easy things. You hear this advice over and over, but regular brushing and flossing will keep your teeth clean and prevent bad things from happening. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who regret not starting these habits early. You might think your teeth are okay without these habits for a while, but neglecting your home care will always lead to cavities or gum disease.
2. Be gentle with them. You might think hard, vigorous brushing equates to doing a thorough job. You’re wrong. Too many people scrub their teeth very hard and some people even use brushes with stiff bristles to do so. Brushing should feel more like a gum massage than anything. Take it easy on your teeth. They’ll be just as clean and feel much better.
3. Get them a fancy gift. I used to believe that with a little time and effort, manual toothbrushes can be just as good as electric toothbrushes. I’ve been amazed how good the technology is getting in recent years though. We’re at the point where I fully confess that electric toothbrushes are much better than manual toothbrushes for any given person. My personal favorite line of electric brushes comes from Sonicare. They make amazing brushes for both children and adults that are well worth the money. I’ll never go back to normal brushes.
4. Think of them throughout the day. Although you might not be able to do a full tooth cleaning after lunch or while at work, at least do something. Carry a brush and some paste in your car or in your desk at work. If nothing else, at least drink water frequently to wash away as many of those food particles as possible. A little thoughtfulness for your teeth goes a long way.
5. Take them on a date to the dental office. Going to the dentist is important even if you rarely have cavities. As a dental professional, I feel like I have a very good handle on oral health, but when my hygienists clean my teeth, they always find little nooks and crannies where plaque builds in my mouth. If even a dentist can admit needing a hygienist, I’m pretty sure the rest of the population would benefit from seeing them frequently. Additionally, becoming a frequent flyer at the dental office assures you that problems can be caught early when they might be easier and cheaper to fix.
-Nicolas K. Young, DMD