The smile is always the first thing that catches your attention the first time you meet someone (well, except if you’re Ian Somerhalder – for me you don’t really need to flash that toothy grin). It can build you up or it can break you. But aside from your pearly whites that you need to take care of, you also need to take care of your overall oral health.
You might take it in a stride but if you’ve experienced the following, you might not be taking care of yourself:
Bad breath. “Infrequent brushing and flossing allow the buildup of oral bacteria that produce stinky sulfur by-products” says Kimberly Harms, a dental surgeon from American Dental Association. And of course, anything stink coming in will also have stink coming out, such as the case when you eat onion, garlic and anything pungent.
How to fix it: Floss daily. Tongue scrape (you can buy a tongue scraper from drug stores) at least twice a day. Brush you teeth regularly. Use fluoride toothpaste that does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate, a harsh foaming agent that dries in the mouth. Saliva has antibacterial agents and rids of problem-causing causing, so avoid anything that dries the mouth like caffeine or alcohol. When using mouthwash, choose the alcohol free ones. Bacteria feeds on sugar so if you want a quick fix, chew sugarless gums and mints.
Sensitive Teeth. When the dentin of our teeth becomes exposed caused by damage of the enamel or cementum, the nerves get stimulated and irritated, thus causing tooth sensitivity . The discomfort is mostly noticeable when we drink hot or cold beverages or when we eat acidic and sweet food.
How to fix it: Common cause of damage to the teeth is poor oral hygiene, and if you have tooth decay and damage , like cracked and broken teeth, see a dentist immediately. Repeated exposure to alcohol or acid, like in the case of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (which induces vomiting) causes tooth erosion which also causes sensitive teeth, and can be managed by seeing a specialist. Other causes, though, can be easily addressed and you can resolve on your own. Gingivitis and too aggressive brushing can cause receding gum lines and can expose the dentin. Brush gently but regularly. Use soft-bristled brushes and don’t press to hard.
Canker Sores. The cause of those little white bumps that occur inside your mouth is still unknown, but it known to be triggered by certain foods ( citrus and acidic fruits) or even by brushing too vigorously. Sometimes a sharp tooth surface or dental appliance, such as braces or ill-fitting dentures, might also trigger canker sores.
How to Fix it: Antibacterial mouthwashes can help disinfect your mouth and may speed the healing process. Avoid mouthwash with alcohol as they may sting. Avoid citrus fruits and other acidic foods that can worsen the pain. If the cancer sores lingers for more than 2 weeks, see your dentist to rule out oral cancer.
Tooth Grinding Typically brought on by stress and anxiety, tooth grinding happens usually happens, at night when you’re asleep and unaware. It could be an indication of jaw tenderness and abnormalities in your teeth. Chronic teeth grinding can result to fracturing, loosening and possible loss of teeth.
How to Fix it: Practice relaxation exercises such as meditation or simple Yoga stretches to destress. If tooth grinding continues, ask your dentist about getting a custom-made night guard that fits comfortably over your teeth. The night guard will be pushed into a soft, forgiving plastic surface instead of grinding tooth to tooth.
These seemingly minor problems may also signal serious health issues though. Studies suggest that the bacteria that contributes to bad breath and gum diseases also raise the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Do these quick fixes to guarantee a confident smile but if these issues still persist, it will be best to consult a GP to rule out complications.