13 Keys to Dental Health
Keep your 32 teeth clean and strong with advice from Dr. Roizen, Dr. Oz and Dr. Arthur Perry, plus author and dentist to the stars Dr. Jonathan Levine.
Protect your teeth and keep your mouth beautiful and healthy.
- Use a rounded-end, soft-bristle brush.
- Brush twice a day for 30 seconds in each quadrant, or a total of two minutes
- Angle the brush 45 degrees to the gumline—you want the bristles to get under the gum, gently.
- Replace your toothbrush every 30 to 45 days, because toothbrush heads harbor bacteria.
- Use a toothbrush sanitizer, and make sure to let the toothbrush air-dry, rather than storing it in a damp environment or in a drawer.
Pick the right toothpaste.
Join the floss revolution.
According to Dr. Levine, only 10 percent of Americans are flossing regularly, a very low number considering it's one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. Proper flossing contributes to good gum health and lowers the risk of heart attacks, among other problems.
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Protect your lips.
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Find the right dentist for your needs.
What to ask for at your next dentist's appointment
Patients should get a complete set of X-rays every three to five years. During regular checkups—which should be scheduled every six months to a year—X-rays should be taken of individual teeth that may have cracks or cavities. Pregnant women should not have X-rays.
- Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome
Clenching, grinding or bad alignment of teeth can cause this disorder. Even if you don't notice symptoms (headaches, jaw pain), your dentist should look at your bite and feel your jaw to ensure there is no stress to the joints.
- Periodontal Exam
Have your gums receded? Your dentist should take measurements annually around each tooth to detect any gum disease.
- Oral Cancer
The inside of your mouth and the glands in your neck area should be checked each year.
- Oral Surgery
Anytime you receive general anesthesia, an oral surgeon, a surgical assistant and another assistant should be on hand to monitor your vital signs using an EKG, a blood pressure monitor and a pulse oximeter. Either the oral surgeon must be licensed in anesthesiology by the state dental board (the license should be displayed in the office) or there must be an anesthesiologist present.
Some tooth stains are intrinsic—they are created internally by genetics, Dr. Levine says. These stains need a true whitener, done in a dentist's office. Extrinsic tooth stains, which can be created by smoking and consuming things like coffee, red wine and soy sauce, benefit from a good cleaning and an over-the-counter whitener. Good brushing and flossing habits will prevent most of these stains.
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