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Why It’s Important to Care for Your Teeth and Gums

Keep your smile beautiful with these simple tips for taking care of your teeth and gums.

Father and son brushing their teeth, dental health

Anyone who’s seen the classic movie Annie can tell you: You’re never fully dressed without a smile. In fact, your smile isn’t just an indication of if you’re happy or not. An intensive study on smiling says that smiles aren’t just an expression of a feeling. Instead, smiles are the tiny visible part of an intimate melding of two minds.

With that in mind, what is your smile saying about you? Having and keeping a healthy smile isn’t effortless work. Do you know the do’s and don’ts of a beautiful smile?

Brush and floss the right way

You, of course, should be brushing your teeth at least twice a day. Make sure the toothpaste you’re using has fluoride in it. The American Dental Association also says this standard should involve cleaning between your teeth once a day (at minimum)—that means flossing or rinsing with mouthwash.

It’s not enough to mindlessly brush your teeth. Most of us adequately brush the front teeth but neglect to get all the plaque off the molars. Watch this video on how to brush your teeth properly.

And if it’s a constant battle to get your little ones to brush their teeth, make it a game! This podcast, “Chompers,” might give your child some incentive (and entertainment) to brush those pearly whites. They even have a morning and an evening episode so you can make sure they hit the twice-a-day brushing goal.

Related: The ABCs of Healthy, Toothy Smiles

Know what’s going on in your mouth

No two mouths are the same. It’s critical to go to a dentist to make sure you’re doing what you should to take care of your specific needs. For example, do you have an increased risk of gum disease? Does your family have a history of receding gums? If you prevent these problems early on, it’s much easier to take care of them.

You should visit the dentist a minimum of once a year, but if you have a tendency to get cavities, it’s a good idea to go more often.

Related: Nervous Habits That May Be Affecting Your Health

Be careful what you eat and drink

Unsurprisingly, sugary foods are villainous to your teeth, but sticky candies are particularly harmful. Other foods like soft starches that get trapped between your teeth should be avoided in excess. This includes food like potato chips or soft breads. And soda, which is both loaded with sugar and has phosphoric and citric acids, likes to wear down your beautiful teeth. Tobacco—smoking or smokeless—is also extremely damaging.

On the reverse side, foods that are healthy for your teeth include fiber-rich foods (think fruits and vegetables) and dairy. Fiber gets your saliva flowing and can help reduce some of the harmful effects acids play on your teeth. Cheese also gets your saliva going and dairy foods like milk and yogurt give you the calcium and minerals your teeth need.

Taking care of your teeth isn’t complicated, but it does take discipline. The great news is, the rewards of having healthy teeth are lifelong.

And while you’re here, check out our other articles on healthy living. For information on our medical and dental plans, visit selecthealth.org/plans.        


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Amberlee Lovell Peterson
Amberlee is a content manager, freelance writer, and designer. She is currently working on launching her own podcast and loves baby foxes.