Your Guide to a Dazzling Smile
Local cosmetic dentists share the latest smile-enhancing treatments and trends.
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MAINTAINING A HEALTHY SMILE
Once we’ve invested in whitening, veneers, crowns, or dental implants, how do we keep our teeth and gums in tip-top shape?
Obviously brushing and flossing should be part of a consistent oral hygiene routine, along with scheduling routine check-ups, and drinking plenty of water.
“Foods that are low in sugar and low in acid are healthiest for your teeth,” says Dr. Stacy Roszkowski of Lifelong Dental Care in West St. Paul. “Drinking soda, Gatorade-type drinks, and other sugary-acidic beverages can really destroy tooth structure quickly.”
Many teens are replacing soda with energy drinks, “only to find that they have a mouth full of cavities,” Dr. Roszkowski says. Many teens have been taught that sugary soda is bad for their teeth, but not necessarily the potential hazards of acidic energy drinks on tooth enamel. If you do drink energy drinks, swish your mouth with water, chew gum, and don’t brush for at least 30 minutes. (The friction of brushing can further erode enamel.)
“The key to anything is moderation,” says Dr. Roszkowski.
Another enemy of healthy teeth is sour candy because of the sugar/acidity combo and the fact that sour candy has a tendency to stick to teeth.
It’s not just food, drinks, and poor oral hygiene habits that can wreak havoc on teeth. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, about one in three people suffers from bruxism—grinding or clenching teeth—particularly “people who are aggressive, competitive and hurried” (ie: feeling anxious and/or dealing with large amounts of stress).
Dr. Samira S. Mahabadi of Bassett Creek Dental in Golden Valley comments, “Grinding is not a habit we can break because most of the time it occurs at night while we are sleeping and not aware of it.”
Grinding teeth can cause micro-cracks in the enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay. Tooth grinding can also cause headaches, muscle pain, and jaw injury. Sometimes people don’t realize they’re grinding their teeth until a dentist spots the problem during a check-up (just one more reason to keep those regular appointments).
The solution, says Dr. Mahabadi, can be a custom-fitted mouth guard worn at night, “to protect your teeth from further damage.”
You can also protect your teeth through a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts—they have antioxidants and nutrients to strengthen immunity and help fight bacteria and inflammation, says Dr. Drew Spencer of Edina 5-0 Dental. “While dairy products, like milk and cheese, have calcium and Vitamin D to support bone growth and recharge tooth enamel,” he comments.
Other helpful tips when it comes to eating and drinking: don’t chew ice (it can lead to tiny cracks that can develop into serious problems down the road), drink green tea, and use water as a rinse after eating.
10 TIPS FOR HEALTHY, WHITE TEETH
- Make regular appointments with your dentist every 6 months to have your teeth cleaned and keep your appointments. Don’t wait until a painful emergency situation warrants a phone call.
- Your teeth—like your skin—is porous. Once stains penetrate the surface layer, they can clog (stain) these pores. If it can stain a white t-shirt, it can stain your teeth, so be wary of coffee, tea, soda, red wine, soy sauce, berries, and curry. Drink water to help wash away stains before they set in.
- Fibrous foods like apples, celery, carrots, spinach, broccoli and lettuce actually work to remove stains by exfoliating teeth before the stain molecules have time to set into the teeth’s molecules.
- Try naturally whitening your teeth by eating strawberries. Blend strawberries into a purée and rub the mixture along the surface of your teeth.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months or so.
- If you smoke, quit.
- Chew sugar-free gum after eating to break down food particles still in your mouth. Trident has the sugar substitute xylitol. Unlike other sugar substitutes, xylitol can’t be broken down into an acid by bacteria in your mouth.
- Eat more fruits and veggies. Make huge salads. Avoid fast food and processed food as much as possible. Avoid constant snacking. All of this will help give you brighter, whiter teeth with fewer cavities.
- Invest in an electronic toothbrush.
Floss your teeth every evening to prevent costly repairs. It only takes a minute. Do it!
Dental Resource Guide
Bassett Creek Dental
Golden Valley • 763-546-1301
Boe Family Dentistry
Long Lake • 952-475-0989
Edina 5-0 Dental, P.A.
Edina • 952-922-8111
Lifelong Dental Care
West St. Paul • 651-457-4888
Nancy Norling DDS
Minneapolis • 952-544-4129
Windmiller Distinctive Dentistry
Stillwater and Wayzata • 651-439-8840