6 easy ways to protect your smile

Most people don’t realize how easy it can be to include healthy behaviors into their regular routines. Here are some simple ways to enjoy better oral health.

Brush your teeth correctly twice daily.

Brushing twice a day for two minutes each time is the most effective way to remove plaque.

Make sure to:

  • Brush thoroughly, reaching every tooth surface above and slightly below the gumline.
  • Use toothpaste with fluoride — it’s key to preventing tooth decay.
  • Brush gently, because brushing too hard can damage your gums and wear down tooth enamel.
  • Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about brushing effectively.

Use your teeth only to chew foods.

Don’t use your teeth as tools to open bottles and packages or to chew on pens, pencils, fingernails or ice. If you use your teeth in unnatural ways, you can:

  • Crack or chip your teeth
  • Damage your fillings
  • Cause toothaches
  • Wear down tooth enamel
  • Irritate soft tissues inside your teeth

Find healthy alternatives to sugary drinks.

It’s well known that sugar is hard on your teeth and can cause cavities. But it may surprise you just how much sugar is in some drinks, including so called “healthy drinks.” Be sure to read the label.

Surprising amounts of sugar per 12 ounce serving:

  • 12 teaspoons: fruit smoothies
  • 9 teaspoons: fruit juices and energy drinks
  • 8 teaspoons: sodas
  • 6 teaspoons: sports drinks
  • 3 teaspoons: chocolate milk

Swapping out those sugary beverages with water is much better for your oral health.

Watch out for surprise sugars.

When you think of sugar-packed foods, you may picture sweets like candy and other desserts. But many foods that aren’t sweet often contain a lot of sugar — like BBQ sauce, ketchup, baked beans, and canned soups.

As with drinks, watch out for foods that many consider healthy. Some low-fat yogurts, canned fruits, and most granola, protein bars and breakfast cereals are full of sugar.

Look for low-sugar versions of these products or keep their high sugar content in mind and consume them only in moderation.

Wear a mouthguard.

Anyone playing contact sports like soccer, basketball, football, wrestling and ice hockey should use a mouth guard to protect against mouth injuries, including:

  • Lost and cracked teeth
  • Damage to roots and crowns
  • Torn lips and cheeks

Mouth guards are also helpful protection during other activities that have the potential for mouth injuries — such as skateboarding, mountain biking, gymnastics and more.

These are just a few of the good oral health habits you can practice daily. In addition to brushing correctly, protecting your mouth and watching your diet, make sure to floss daily and avoid tobacco. You’ll see the results with a healthy smile!