The Dentist Magazine.

How to have a great smile

Published: 08/05/2017

National smile month is about raising awareness of the importance of good oral health. 

Regular visits to the dentist will help spot early signs of any problems and help correct them before they affect your smile. Good oral health is not just about keeping your gums and teeth healthy and looking good; poor gum health has been linked with other conditions within in our bodies, such as heart disease, strokes, diabetes and dementia.

To celebrate National Smile month, May 15 to June 15, mydentist has looked at how we can look after our smile.

National Smile Month found that 61 per cent of us have been attracted to someone by their smile alone, while a whopping two thirds would lose respect for a boss with bad oral hygiene.

An attractive smile is primarily based on good oral health so it is important to eat a balanced diet with reduced frequency of sugar consumption; to brush twice a day, in the morning and last thing at night; and to visit the dentist regularly.

How attractive is your smile?

Is your smile the best it can be? The four most common issues with our teeth are:

Staining

Staining is caused when the outer layer of enamel becomes discoloured, typically from drinks like red wine, coffee and cola. Smoking also contributes to teeth staining as well as a host of other oral health problems including gum disease, tooth loss and even cancer. A yellow smile is instantly ageing, adding years to your appearance.

How to prevent staining:

Barry Cockcroft, non-executive director at mydentist and former chief dental officer for England, explains, “If you want a great smile that lasts then stopping smoking would be a great start, above the other health benefits.”

While prevention is always better than cure, the good news is that you can whiten your stained teeth safely and effectively with a treatment from your dentist.

But, be aware, teeth whitening will only affect your natural teeth, so crowns or fillings will remain unchanged; you may also want to change these too after your treatment.

Gum problems

Missing teeth which create visible gaps towards the front of the mouth do not create a good smile

As Barry explains, “More people lose their teeth now as a result of gum disease rather than tooth decay.Gum disease is a usually slowly progressive disease which is mostly painless and does not cause symptoms, other than bleeding, until the teeth become mobile.

“This is why people should continue to have regular dental checks even though they may have no tooth decay or fillings. This trend will continue as the prevalence of tooth decay in the population decreases.”

Tooth decay

“Cavities are caused when bacteria in the plaque on the teeth convert sugars in food into acid. To prevent this you should reduce the amount and frequency of sugar consumption. You should look at how much sugar foods contain; you would be surprised how much sugar some cereals, processed foods and drinks contain,” Barry explains.

It has been proved many times that fluoride reduces the prevalence of tooth decay; all good toothpastes contain the optimum level of fluoride and it is present naturally in all our water – though, in most areas, not enough to reduce decay.

Sensitivity

Sensitive teeth can occur at any age; it is caused when gum recedes beyond where the enamel ends and exposes the sensitive dentine underneath.

Sensitivity itself is not a health problem but it can make eating cold or hot foods uncomfortable, or even make brushing painful. You can buy toothpastes that are specially formulated to reduce sensitivity or your dentist can apply a varnish.

Sensitive teeth are not normally a health problem but will certainly cramp your smile style when tucking into ice cream or hot coffee.

Chew sugar free gum to keep your smile young:

Mydentist found that three out of four people don’t use chewing gum as part of their oral health routine, with 47 per cent of 55 to 64-year-olds considering it rude.

But chewing a sugar-free gum on a regular basis can help clean our teeth to help keep that smile looking young:

  1. Helps to prevent dry mouth – This is where the mouth is unable to produce the saliva it needs to function healthily and is a particularly big problem for older people. While the flow of saliva does tend to naturally reduce with age, there are some easy ways to combat this. Chewing gum encourages the mouth to produce saliva, therefore keeping the mouth lubricated and cleansed.
  2. Combats bad breath – Not just because of its minty flavour, but chewing sugar-free gum can actually help to combat bad breath. Another side effect of a reduced flow of saliva with old age is unpleasant breath, and increased saliva due to chewing gum helps to wash away the bacteria that causes it.
  3. Helps to prevent cavities – After we eat, acid builds up and can start to break down this enamel, leaving you more susceptible to cavities. Saliva contains calcium and phosphate which strengthens the enamel and, as chewing sugar-free gum helps to produce more saliva, it can help to keep your teeth strong and healthy.
  4. Keeps bad habits at bay – For many people trying to quit smoking, chewing sugar-free gum has proven to be useful because it replaces the motion of having a cigarette in their mouth. Not only does it keep your hands and mouth busy but, in the long term, it also cuts your risk of smoking-related illness such as gum disease, tooth decay and oral cancer.

 

But, as Barry explains, “Always remember the most important thing is good oral health; if you neglect your oral health then there is no quick fix to make you look good.”