7 Secrets to a Healthier Smile
A top dentist shares his professional tips -- and personal habits -- for keeping teeth in tip-top shape.
5. Seeing the dentist may save your life.
People are slowly realizing that gum disease might be a sign of heart disease. Some studies indicate a connection but more research needs to be done. It's all about inflammation -- be it of the gums or of the arteries of the heart. Some studies show that bacteria in gum disease is also in plaques in heart arteries. Seeing the dentist can benefit not only your smile and the whiteness of your teeth, but also your overall health.
6. The mouth tells no lies.
I can tell so much about a person just peering into their mouth. I can see if they have certain habits or issues -- whether they drink a lot of soda or coffee and if they have had a drug problem in the past or present. If they are experiencing a lot of stress, they may grind or clench their teeth, leading to gum recession or telltale wear patterns. Acid erosion patterns can betray a bulimic. Bad breath can even say a lot -- be it acid reflux, a poor diet, or even diabetes. You just can't hide these things once you open your mouth.
7. Not all whites are right.
There's no one-size-fits-all shade of white. If you bring in a picture of someone whose bright smile you admire, it's entirely possible it won't suit you. It depends on your coloring and your teeth. It's a bit like hair color in that respect. Everyone has a different potential for whiteness.
Steven Roth's Dental Habits
Ever wonder how much of their own advice dentists follow? Roth is one health professional who practices what he preaches.
How often do you get a new toothbrush?
Every 90 days, right after I get my cleaning -- it's easy to remember that way. I use a mechanical toothbrush, so I just swap out the old head for a new one.
If you can't brush, what do you do?
I rinse with [a mouthwash] to kill bacteria. (I also like to dip my toothbrush in it, but I guess this is when you have no brush on hand.) If nothing else is available, I rinse with warm water.
Do you have a special brushing technique?
Well, do you count brushing my teeth while I'm in the shower as special? Hey -- it's very efficient and I like to multitask! Also, I often floss three times a day -- I just love the feeling.
Confess: Do you have any bad habits that you usually advise patients to break?
I'm pretty virtuous -- no ice-chewing, candy-eating, or soda- or coffee-drinking for me.
What's the last thing in your nightly dental routine?
I put in my bite-guard. Yup, I have one, and I think a huge percentage of people could benefit from one. They help prevent a lot of the damage from nighttime clenching or grinding.
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