Dr. Nancy Rosen, a leading cosmetic and restorative dentist in New York City, gives you the inside scoop on getting a better smile.
You Can't Fool Your Dentist About Your Smoking
"The funny thing is that everyone sits down in the chair and says, 'Oh, I'm sorry, I just had lunch,' or 'I just had coffee.' But the only smell I ever notice is smoker's breath," Rosen said.
People who smoke try to cover it up with mints our mouthwash, but the smell of smoke is embedded in the mouth and gum tissue.
Note: smokers are four times more likely to have advanced periodontal disease than non-smokers.
Bacteria Can Spread From Mom to Baby on Food, Cutlery
The bacteria that cause cavities can be spread from mother to baby through indirect contact, meaning if you share utensils or food.
If you have poor dental health and you taste your baby's food and then pop the same spoon into his mouth, you're putting him at risk. No one's going so far as to say, "Don't kiss your baby," but if you've got cavities or gum disease, take special care.
Most People Clean Less Than a Quarter of Their Mouths When They Brush
Most people, if they brush for 30 seconds, think it's a long time. Proper oral hygiene requires five minutes of brushing and flossing every day.
This includes two to three minutes of brushing your teeth and one to two minutes of flossing. The average adult brushes 30 seconds total each time and kids do even less.
"They think they're brushing for a long amount of time … you have to be brushing for at least 2 to 3 minutes," Rosen said.
Thirty seconds doesn't even cover a quarter of the mouth and 90 percent of the time people are missing the back molars because they brush what people see the most.
That's why Rosen said she loves the inexpensive electric toothbrushes that you can get at the drugstore.
"Im a big fan of the electric toothbrushes," Rosen said, adding that they clean more than the traditional toothbrush.
Just because your front teeth look good doesn't mean there's no gum disease in your back teeth.
Over bleaching Can Make Teeth Translucent
If you bleach your teeth too often, it can thin the enamel. Your teeth can end up almost translucent.
Bleaching your teeth once every six months is enough — no more. Now some treatments take 10 days, seven days or three days. That just means there's varying amounts of whitener in the strips.
And if you're finding that the gel irritates your teeth and gums, just use a fluoride rinse or gel before and afterward. It will make your teeth much less sensitive.
Don't Get the Deep Cleaning When You Only Need the Regular Kind
Some dentists will say you need a deep cleaning because they can charge your insurance company more for that than for a standard cleaning. But unless an exam shows you have a lot of tartar on your roots or other specific signs of disease, you probably don't need it.
Here's how you know: When they stick the scraper in your mouth and start calling out numbers, if those numbers are mostly threes or below, you can get a regular cleaning. If those numbers are fours, fives or above, then you need the deep cleaning.
For more dentists' secrets, CLICK HERE to get the full list from Reader's Digest.