One of the best ways to achieve (and then maintain) a healthy smile is to practice preventative dentistry: Preventative dentistry includes regular checkups and cleanings in conjunction with the use of proper brushing and flossing techniques. Even the foods and beverages you consume can affect your smile. The tips below are designed to help you achieve and then maintain a bright, healthy smile.

1. Good oral hygiene every day is essential

The American Dental Association (ADA) states that you should brush your teeth two times a day and floss at least once. Following brushing and flossing your teeth, use mouthwash to eliminate any germs that remain: Remember to choose a mouthwash that does not contain alcohol. Alcohol containing mouthwashes can make the symptoms of dry mouth worse; furthermore, according to the ADA, individuals who have an increased risk for oral cancer (i.e., smokers and those who have a family history of the disease) should avoid using the mouthwashes that contain alcohol.

2. Watch for signs of gum disease

Contact your dentist quickly if you notice that you frequently have halitosis (bad breath) and/or your gums:

  • Look swollen
  • Red
  • Bleed easily
  • Feel tender

Oral infections left untreated can lead to serious problems with the heart, as well as other major organs and digestion.

3. Do not smoke

According to the American Dental Association, in addition to the many other negative impacts that smoking has on one’s health, smoking also raises the risk of developing gum disease which may lead to tooth loss. Moreover, smoking stains teeth, which makes achieving a bright, healthy smile difficult.

4. Schedule regular cleanings and checkups

You should have your teeth cleaned twice a year (every six months). These professional cleanings address issues that flossing and brushing cannot; in addition, your dentist can determine if there are any issues that need to be addressed.

5. Avoid foods and beverages that are known to damage your teeth

You should limit your consumption of starchy, sugary foods. These foods frequently leave your teeth vulnerable to the development of cavities. The acidic nature of soda (pop) and sugar in juices are another problem, which is why, whenever possible, you should choose water over these other beverages. If you are going to drink a beverage other than water, you can keep it from coming into contact with your teeth by using a straw. The straw allows you to bypass your teeth; thus, preventing stains and keeping the acid and sugar from sitting on your teeth.

Other foods and beverages that harm your teeth include:

  • Sticky candy
  • Lollipops/Suckers
  • Hard candy
  • Lemonade
  • Sweetened tea/coffee (both iced and hot versions)
  • Tomatoes and citrus fruits – while these are nutritious foods, you should avoid eating them by themselves and instead eat them with a meal. If you do eat them alone, remember to rinse your mouth out with water once you are done eating.

6. Eat foods that are known to benefit your teeth

Eat calcium-fortified foods and beverages, as well as dairy products to strengthen your teeth.

These foods include:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Plain yogurt
  • Almonds
  • Leafy greens

Protein-rich foods that provide phosphorous include:

  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Other meats
  • Eggs

Both calcium and phosphorus play a vital role in creating and maintaining a healthy smile as these minerals actually protect and rebuild your tooth’s enamel.
Prevention is the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy smile. Dr. Camilo Riaño is an orthodontist who is dedicated to helping his patients attain the smile they have always desired. If you reside in or near San Francisco and want to learn more about what Dr. Riaño can do to help you achieve and maintain a healthy smile, contact our office today. We look forward to making you smile!