4 steps to a whiter, brighter and healthier smile

Good oral care may help your appearance, your well-being and even your wallet

Caring for your teeth and gums is part of maintaining your overall wellness. And when your smile is healthy, it helps you look and feel your best too.

4 ways to be good to your grin

1. Strike first.

Do you usually wait to see a dentist until a toothache hits? Routine dental visits may save you that suffering — and protect you from tooth loss later. Your dentist may find problems — and treat them — before they’re serious, painful and more costly to fix.

Many people see a dentist once or twice a year for checkups and cleanings. But it varies. Ask your dentist what’s best for you.*

2. Brush up.

Remember: Brush at least twice a day for two minutes. Use a soft brush and fluoride toothpaste. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months — sooner, if it shows signs of wear.

3. Keep on flossing.

Maybe you read that flossing doesn’t matter. Experts say it’s still important.Opens a new window It helps remove bits of food and bacteria that form sticky plaque. If you don’t remove it, with floss or other dental tools, it can lead to gum disease — and tooth loss.

4. Kick tobacco.

If you use it in any form, it may ruin the appearance of your smile — and increase your risk for gum disease and oral cancer.

To help you quit for good, you might start with these questions for your doctor. They’re for smoking cessation but could apply to other types of tobacco use too, such as chewing tobacco.

What about whiteners?

Talk with your dentist before trying one of these popular products. Whiteners may not be best for everyone, according to the American Dental Association. And overusing some types can damage the tooth enamel and gums. If you decide to try a whitener, follow the product’s directions carefully.

What to do next

Keep the teeth you have by being on guard against gum disease. Learn the warning signsOpens a new window of this leading cause of tooth loss.

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* Check your benefit plan to see what services may be covered.