5 Steps to Achieving Your Perfect Smile

Achieving the perfect smile is surprisingly simple. Most of us have hectic schedules and it may seem hard to find the time to prioritize your oral health. However, there are easy at-home and professional treatments available that can help you on your way to attaining the smile of your dreams. You will find that by taking care of your teeth, you will have fewer dental issues and feel a confidence boost as you get your pearly whites in picture-perfect shape. The good news is improving the look of your teeth doesn’t require you to dedicate long hours in the dentist chair. Many dental treatments offered by Modern Family Dental Care can be done around your schedule. Here are the five steps you can take to perfect your smile.

Step 1: Self-Care

Taking care of your teeth starts with developing good habits at home. One of the earliest lessons taught by dentists is the importance of brushing and flossing daily. Tooth decay and gum disease are prevalent dental issues and are preventable by following the American Dental Association (ADA) guidelines when it comes to brushing and flossing. To start, brush teeth twice a day for a minimum of two minutes. When shopping for toothbrushes and toothpastes, look for the ADA seal of acceptance. Electric toothbrushes like Oral-B’s line of powered toothbrushes have the ADA seal since they have been tested and proven to remove plaque and reduce incidences of gingivitis. Crest Cavity Protection Toothpaste is also a product that has been selected to receive the ADA seal.

Additional brushing tips to remember:

  • Use fluoride. Although many Americans drink fluoridated water, not everyone does. When looking at oral health products, choose toothpastes and mouth rinses with fluoride.
  • Change your toothbrush every three to four months.
  • Use a soft-bristled brush since hard bristles may lead to problems like receding gums.
  • Brush all areas of the teeth. Make sure the toothbrush touches the inner, outer and tops of the teeth.

Another self-care tip to remember is to floss at least once a day. Dental floss removes food particles and plaque stuck between the teeth. PTFE floss is preferred over nylon types of floss since the material is less likely to shred during use. To start, break off an approximate 18-inch piece of floss and wind each end around your middle fingers. Slide the floss between the spaces in your teeth and rinse out mouth once finished.

Along with flossing and brushing, you should focus on dietary changes. Certain foods and beverages could be damaging your teeth and discoloring the enamel. Here are the top foods that are associated with teeth staining:

  • Red wine
  • Berries
  • Black tea
  • Cola
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Fruit juices and sports drinks
  • Sauces and gravy

Step 2: Regular Cleanings

The most common question asked by our patients is: Do I really need to visit a dentist every six months? The answer is a resounding yes. Regular preventative dental care will not only help with your perfect smile, but also save you money in the long run. Going to the dentist every six months for a cleaning and checkup can prevent serious issues in the future including tooth decay, tooth loss and gum disease. Preventative dental care services offered by Modern Family Dental Care include:

  • Professional cleanings
  • Exam and x-rays
  • Oral cancer screenings

During a professional cleaning, a dental hygienist will work to remove any plaque buildup on the surface of the teeth. Once plaque is removed, the teeth are polished with a dental paste used to prevent future buildup. As part of a dental cleaning, an exam is also conducted to look for any potential issues like tooth decay and gum disease. During the exam, it’s important to let your dentist know about any pain or discomfort you have experienced or any tooth sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages. In the case of a suspected problem, x-rays may be ordered to take a closer look at the problem area.

Routine dental visits also give you the chance to discuss any potential issues you have concerns about. For instance, if you are grinding your teeth at night, a dentist could create a customized mouth guard designed to fit precisely. Mouth guards will eliminate any complications you may be experiencing due to the grinding such as headaches and jaw pain.

An oral cancer screening can be performed too by your dentist. Through early detection, the prognosis for oral cancer is much improved. Oral cancer screenings may be recommended on an annual basis based on risk factors such as age, family history and tobacco use.

Step 3: Teeth Whitening

Once you have gotten into the habit of practicing good dental hygiene, you can shift your focus to fixing any cosmetic issues involving your teeth. A notable contributing factor to smile shyness is stained teeth. According to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the thing that most people want to change about their smiles is the whiteness of their teeth.

Before you buy any whitening products, you could use household products to create your own whitening solution. One DIY teeth whitening recipe requires you to blend together two-parts hydrogen peroxide to one-part baking soda until a paste is formed. Then, brush with the whitening paste a maximum of two to three times weekly. Never use the paste too frequently to avoid breaking down the teeth’s enamel. Another DIY solution to whiten the teeth that has been proven mildly effective is to brush with coconut oil or use apple cider vinegar as a daily mouth rinse.

Over-the-counter oral care products with teeth whitening benefits are sold at pharmacies and big box retailers nationwide. One type of product used by consumers is teeth whitening toothpaste. Although teeth whitening toothpaste won’t remove stains overnight, the product is intended to diminish discoloration over time. Hydrogen peroxide is typically the ingredient added to the formula to achieve this effect. Teeth whitening strips are another cost-effective option to reduce staining. The idea behind whitening strips is to place a treatment strip across the top front teeth and the bottom front teeth. The whitening gel on the strips is intended to whiten the teeth with visible results as quickly as three days. Like any oral health product, you use, pick whitening toothpaste and whitening strip brands with ADA approval. Options include Crest Whitening Strips and Colgate Whitening Gel Toothpaste.

The important thing to remember is DIY solutions should not be your only tool for whitening teeth. For fast and effective results, you’ll want to look at professional treatment options. The good news is dental office whitening treatments have long-lasting results and are surprisingly affordable. Services offered by Modern Family Dental Care include:

  • Whitening kit with comprehensive exam and x-rays
  • Lifetime whitening upgrade option
  • Power whitening enhancement

Unlike home whitening kits, results from professional treatments last anywhere from six months to a year. Teeth whitening will remove stains that may have discolored your teeth for years and instantly brighten your smile. Professional teeth whitening treatments are painless with no risks involved. Results are also guaranteed with less money wasted on over-the-counter products that may or may not work.

Step 4: Straighten Teeth

When you have a crooked smile, your self-confidence could be adversely affected. When you are shy about the way your teeth look, many aspects of your life could be influenced by feelings of low self-esteem. You may avoid particularly social situations or decide to shun certain occupations because of uneasiness about the way you look. The good news is studies have proven that undergoing orthodontic treatment can boost self-esteem. After orthodontic treatment, adults feel a marked improvement in their social lives and a perceived improvement in the number of job opportunities open to them.

One roadblock with fixing a crooked smile may be the idea of wearing braces as an adult fills you with anxiety. Hearing the phrase “you need braces” could make you return to your adolescence and feel overcome with dread over the idea of becoming a “metal mouth.” In lieu of braces, adults are now more and more likely to choose less visible treatment options like Invisalign to straighten teeth.

To straighten teeth, traditional braces use brackets and wires to correct teeth placement while elastic bands hold the wires and brackets together. Braces are usually offered to children and adolescents over the age of eight once permanent teeth come in and an uneven bite or overcrowding issues are noted. Regular adjustments are required with traditional braces and the braces may need to be worn anywhere from six months to three years. Once braces are removed, a dental retainer must be worn for a pre-determined amount of time.

Invisalign is a transparent aligner used in place of traditional braces. Invisalign is formed from a clear thermoplastic material and is very hard to see once inside the mouth. The aligners are custom made to fit your teeth with new aligners used approximately every two weeks as teeth are repositioned. Invisalign can fix several issues that could be making you shy about your smile. Invisalign can be used in patients who have:

  • Crowded teeth
  • Widely spaced teeth
  • Overbite
  • Crossbite
  • Post-orthodontic treatment relapse

Invisalign is a particularly popular choice with adults who want to improve their smiles, but don’t want a full mouth of metal. Patients may be surprised to learn the following benefits associated with Invisalign when compared to braces:

  • Short treatment times: Invisalign treatment times average between 9 months and 18 months.
  • Comfortable fit: The brackets and wires associated with traditional braces can cause mouth and gum irritation. Invisalign is designed to smoothly fit over your teeth without causing any mouth discomfort.
  • No food restrictions: One of the drawbacks of traditional braces is patients must avoid foods that could become lodged in the braces. Since you remove Invisalign when eating, dietary restrictions aren’t necessary.
  • Comparable cost: A common misconception is that Invisalign costs much more than traditional prices. The costs associated with both treatment types are nearly identical based off national averages.

Invisalign is usually worn a minimum of 20 hours per day with the aligner being removed while eating, drinking and brushing. Like all types of dental treatments, you must be evaluated first to see if Invisalign is right for you.

Step 5: Fixing Chipped or Broken Tooth

Maybe you were eating a hard piece of candy. Or maybe you took a nasty fall. Whatever the cause, you are sure to get a sick feeling in your stomach once you notice a piece of broken tooth inside your mouth. Although the enamel of your teeth is very strong, teeth can still break. They are especially susceptible to breaking and chipping when the enamel has been weakened because of tooth decay.

When you break or chip a tooth, contact a dentist right away to explore treatment options. It is not only important to see a dentist immediately for cosmetic reasons, but also for your future oral health. A broken tooth is susceptible to infection and could also sustain further damage. Before your dental appointment, take extra care of your teeth to avoid any complications. Avoid chewing food with the broken tooth and rinse after meals with salt water. Use an over-the-counter pain reliever if you experience any discomfort prior to your appointment.

In some cases, you may have chipped or broken your tooth some time ago. If the tooth is visible when you smile, you may have some smile shyness over it. Even if you’ve had a broken or chipped tooth for years, it’s never too late to repair the damage and get the confidence boost you’ll feel after perfecting your smile. Options for broken or chipped tooth repair include the following:

  • Fillings: When only a small portion of the tooth has been broken off, the dentist may be able to use a filling to repair the damage. However, fillings are typically not used on chips seen when you smile. In that case, bonding may be done—a process involving using an adhesive to attach resin to the damaged tooth.
  • Crowns: Crowns are made from porcelain and are used to cover damaged teeth. Crowns are created to resemble the natural look of your teeth and are placed over the entire tooth to shield the enamel from any further damage. Crowns are typically recommended when a large part of the original tooth has cracked off.
  • Bridges: Dental bridges are traditionally made up of one or more false teeth and are secured in place by dental crowns. A drawback of dental bridges is that the enamel from your existing teeth will need to be removed to cement the crowns on top.
  • Dental implants: Dental implants allow you to replace one or more damaged teeth with no risk of future complications. During the procedure, an artificial root is surgically placed inside the jaw to mount a replacement tooth or bridge in that area. Dental implants have a more natural feel than other types of treatments and won’t damage any surrounding teeth.

Modern Family Dental Care’s Dr. Taj is the top provider of dental implants within the United States. His education and training was done alongside the top cosmetic dentistry specialists around the globe. He has the honor of being a diplomate of the International Dental Implant Association. His expert advice has been featured in televised segments for programs like Charlotte Today on NBC. Book your appointment today to learn more about dental implants and whether you’re a good candidate for the procedure.

Modern Family Dental Care is here to help ease your mind about the cost of getting the dental work you need to achieve a camera-ready smile. Cosmetic dental procedures are affordable with several financing options available. Here are payment options available to Modern Family Dental Care patients:

  • Dental insurance: Modern Family Dental Care participates in most dental insurance plans and accepts assignment of benefits. Patients with dental insurance will receive cost estimates prior to any scheduled dental work.
  • Wellness Savings Plan: For a nominal annual fee, individuals and families can join our Wellness Savings Plan and receive 20 percent off dental treatment costs throughout the year.
  • Dental payment plans: In-house financing is available as well as third-party lending options through CareCredit and Lending Club.

Let the dentists of Modern Family Dental Care improve your smile. A smile makeover will do wonders for your confidence and self-esteem. Once you have a perfect smile, we can help you keep your teeth beautiful and healthy for years to come. As a courtesy to all our valued patients, we offer free consultations. Modern Family Dental Care…cares!

Written by Dr. Taj

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