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6 Smart Ways to Preserve Your Smile

By Sandy Schroeder

Where does your dental health stand? To keep that smile bright you need to tend to business. Are you behind on checkups, and careless about daily care? Are you flossing daily and using a water jet? Most of us land somewhere in between, but the issue is crucial.

Dentists say infections or inflammation in the mouth can spread to other parts of the body. Gum disease has been linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and possibly certain cancers.   

If you are in your 30s, 40s or older, now is the time to make sure your teeth are getting good care. Twenty percent of older adults have untreated tooth decay, and more than two-thirds have gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here are six steps to help your teeth last longer from Consumer Reports.

Do a daily cleanup - Brush with a fluoridated toothpaste two minutes twice a day. Research whitening procedures. Whitening toothpastes can affect tooth enamel.

Know your brushes - Original toothbrushes work just fine, but sonic and electrics have been shown to be slightly better. Independent research found electric toothbrushes cut dental plaque by 21 percent more and reduced gingivitis by 11 percent more than manual brushes. If you choose electric, be careful. Too much pressure can affect gums and wear down tooth enamel.

Clean between teeth - Daily cleaning with floss, a water jet or interdental brushes removes food stuck there before it can damage teeth and gums. A study in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 2015, says an interdental brush is more effective than flossing.

Do the checkups your mouth needs - Most people can do checkups and cleaning every six months or a year. If you have issues, your dentist may recommend more checkups.

Understand X-rays - The American Dental Association recommends bitewing X-rays every two to three years for adults with normal cavity risk. These X-rays show cavities between teeth. An ADA representative said, "Even every three to five years is reasonable. Most people need more extensive X-rays only every eight to ten years."

Deal with dental emergencies - A steady throbbing toothache that hurts when you chew or bite can be an abscess or infection, particularly if it shows up with facial swelling. Get treatment immediately at your dentist, urgent care or ER. These infections can spread quickly to the head, neck and jaw.  One dentist said, "I've seen people spend 10 days in the hospital ICU or lose their vision due to an untreated tooth abscess."

See a dentist immediately if a tooth splits vertically, which can easily become infected. Daily care and prompt action if an emergency comes up are the only ways to go.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Saint Peters, Mo.

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