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Secrets of great smiles

Eyes may be the windows to the soul, but your smile shows straight through to your heart. Check out these tips to help you and your family get great smiles that you won’t be afraid to show off.

Teen girl with braces

1Brush your teeth.

You’d be surprised how many people skip this step. Be sure that you and your family members brush your teeth at least twice a day — after every meal, if you can. Brushing removes plaque, which builds up and causes decay and gum disease.

Guide to brushing: 3 Essential steps >>

2Use fluoride-supplemented products.

Fluoride prevents decay and stops cavities, so it’s an important ingredient for a healthy smile. Use a toothpaste with added fluoride, and ask your dentist if that’s enough for you. He may add a mouthwash or daily supplement. Some cities add fluoride to the water, so find out if this happens where you live; it may be all you and your family need.

3Avoid tobacco.

Not only do tobacco products smell bad and cause a whole host of health problems, but they also make a mess of your mouth. They turn your teeth brown and cause gum disease and decay. Tobacco products also lead to oral cancer, so stay away from them at all cost.

Why lighting that cigarette is still not a good idea >>

4Clean your tongue.

Don’t skip your tongue when you brush your teeth. Bacteria lives and grows there, which can affect your whole mouth. Brushing your tongue should be the last step every time you brush your teeth.

5Avoid sugar.

Everyone knows sugar is bad for your teeth. It allows bacteria to grow and produces acids that cause decay. If you have a sweet tooth, indulging now and then is OK — just do it in moderation and be sure to brush after you’ve eaten.

6See your dentist.

Be sure that you and your family visit a dentist every six months, no matter what. He’ll do a thorough cleaning to keep everything sparkling and white, and he’ll do an examination to catch any small problems before they turn into big issues.

Make your next appointment when you leave the dentist. You’re more likely to go if the appointment is already booked.

7See an orthodontist.

An orthodontist can do what’s needed to get your teeth straight and smile-ready. Your dentist will let you know if you or your children should see one, but you can contact an orthodontist on your own if you think you have an issue. He’ll do an initial examination and come up with a plan to address your needs.

What is Invisalign? >>

More tips on dental care

Brush your teeth: Make toothbrushing fun!
Stretching your dollars for family dental care
7 Questions you should be asking your dentist

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