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Oral Care

Dental Tips for Looking Younger

Tried-and-true brushing and flossing can help you hold on to your good looks longer.
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Inflammation, Periodontal Disease continued...

"The mouth is one of the major contributors to high levels of inflammation in the body," says Iacopino, who has consulted for Colgate and Johnson & Johnson.

Chronic inflammation is linked to chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer's disease. It's not clear if the inflammation causes those diseases or is a marker of some other cause. But either way, it's not a good sign.

Then there's periodontal disease, which affects 80% of Americans. It's caused by extensive bacterial buildup along the gums and teeth. Periodontal disease is the top cause of tooth loss.

Bacterial buildup, inflammation, tooth decay, and periodontal disease happen quietly and slowly. That's why so many people don't know it's happening.

When done consistently and correctly, brushing and flossing reduce bacteria or plaque buildup. That helps prevent inflammation and gum disease.

Stained Teeth

Smoking and drinking, particularly red wine and coffee, can stain your teeth and affect how old you look.

Tooth whitening -- over-the-counter and in dentists' offices -- has become increasingly popular in the U.S. and is often marketed as a way to look and feel younger.

Experts say although artificial whitening can temporarily improve a smile, you still need consistent brushing, flossing, and routine dental care to have a lasting impact on how well you age.

Of course, you need to do more than brush, floss, and see your dentist to stay young. Your entire lifestyle matters. "If you want to slow down your aging clock, getting enough sleep, a healthy diet, exercise, and keeping down your levels of inflammation are all key,” Iacopino says.

Hewett agrees. “The fact remains that there are no shortcuts to getting and staying healthy, and oral health is no exception," he says.

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Reviewed on August 19, 2010

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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