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10 Must Know Tips for Keeping your Pearly Whites Healthy

You might not think much about your teeth as you go about your day, chewing, chatting and laughing. But when something goes wrong with your smile-whether it’s a cavity or a toothache-you quickly realize how much your teeth actually do and how important they are to your overall health. So what can you do to protect them?

Ted Filandrianos D.M.D., F.A.G.D. of Ted Filandrianos and Associates in Newton Centre says it’s really not that hard. Ten simple steps can keep your teeth in top shape and help ward off dental ills.

  1. Don’t neglect your dentist. People often wait to go to the dentist until something is wrong. If nothing is bothering them why take the time? But regular visits are critical. For most people every six months is fine, says Filandrianos. Some people can even get away with once a year. But others may need to stop in every three months to keep their teeth in top shape. Talk to your dentist to find out what schedule best meets your needs and keep those appointments.
  2. Don’t brush off small signs of trouble. You may not be fazed by that small amount of blood on your toothbrush, but it can lead to big problems if you aren’t getting regular dental care. Bleeding gums may signal untreated gum disease, which can not only lead to dental problems, but has also been linked to major medical problems, including heart disease.
  3. Floss, floss, floss. You’ve heard it before and yeah, we know it’s a pain, but it really does matter. “We often see patients who come in with cavities between their teeth,” says Filandrianos. The only way to prevent them-break out that floss and use it to clear away decay-causing build-up between your teeth.
  4. Avoid sticky snacks or rinse after you eat them. If you’re a fan of gummy, sticky foods, like taffy, fruit leather or raisins it can mean bad news for your teeth. “We had one client that suddenly started getting cavities,” said Filandrianos. A little detective work found that she’d recently started eating yogurt with raisins in the morning. “Every time you have something with carbohydrates or sugar it makes an acid for 20 minutes after and eats away at the tooth structure,” said Filandrianos. So avoid sticky snacks whenever you can -and if you can’t brush, at least rinse with water after eating.
  5. Watch what you drink. Like sticky foods, sugary drinks can also take a toll on your smile. A cup of coffee with sugar, sipped over the course of an hour, is like a sugar bath for your teeth. If you do indulge in an offending beverage, brush or rinse as soon as possible after you finish. Or consider using a straw, which can help reduce your exposure.
  6. Take it easy. You don’t need to scour your teeth like a bathtub to get them clean. Being too rough when you brush can cause your gums to recede and expose the root of the tooth. This leads to pain and sensitivity to hot and cold. Choose a soft toothbrush and save your strength for the gym.
  7. Put in the time. A quick swipe with a toothbrush isn’t enough to get your teeth clean. You need to take a little longer to get the job done right. Focus your brushing on the front, top and back of your teeth, taking five seconds for each tooth on each surface, says Filandrianos. While it may seem time consuming-think about all that time you won’t spend getting fillings.
  8. Choose your toothpaste wisely. Some toothpaste ingredients can lead to sores in the mouth known as canker sores. If you’ve noticed cankers in your mouth recently, check your toothpaste for an ingredient called, sodium laurel sulfate. It can trigger canker sores in some people, said Filandrianos. If you’re sensitive to this ingredient look for one of the many toothpastes on the market that is free of this ingredient.
  9. Read between the lines. Speaking of toothpaste…many brands claim to whiten your smile. The truth is, any brand on the market today can say it whitens if it contains an abrasive that removes stains-which is pretty much all of them, said Filandrianos. If you really want a whitener, look for toothpaste that contains carbamide peroxide, which is hydrogen peroxide, a true whitener.
  10. Focus on the rest of your body. Some physical problems that you might visit your doctor for, really require a dentist. Many people grind or clench their teeth at night, which can not only destroy or break teeth, but can cause headaches and face or back pain. If you’re having pain, visit your dentist. If you are clenching or grinding-a condition call bruxism-he or she can fit you with a night guard to relieve the problem and likely reduce your pain. “This can be life altering for someone who has had headaches for years,” said Filandrianos.

Taking the time to prevent problems can keep your teeth healthy and strong, and keep those dental appointments short.