Maintaining healthy teeth does get a little more challenging as we get older: Over time, acid exposure, bacteria, staining agents, and other culprits can sabotage your smile.
When you want to measure how healthy you are, you probably think about how many fruits and veggies you have each day or whether you get winded when you climb the stairs. But the answer could be right under your nose. Conditions like diabetes, anemia, or immune or nutritional deficiencies can show up as bleeding gums, rampant tooth decay, or swelling or discoloration of the tongue and gum tissue. Likewise, gum disease has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and hardening of the arteries.
It's never too late to adopt healthy dental habits -- find them on the following slides, along with tips for keeping your lips looking their best.
Don't use too much pressure or rake the brush back and forth, which leads to gum recession and loss of enamel. Instead, slant your toothbrush up and toward the gumline at a 45-degree angle and brush gently for at least two minutes.
Flossing is also crucial to remove plaque and particles that stick to the teeth and gums and to polish the tooth's surface: Wrap the floss around the tooth in a C shape, then glide it up, down, and around each tooth to really clean each side. Try flossing before you brush; you'll loosen up debris that you can then brush off.
Outfit your medicine cabinet with these must-haves to keep your teeth and gums in great shape.
The right toothpaste: To keep teeth healthy and bright, look for a toothpaste that targets your dental issues -- for instance, a formula that whitens, offers tartar control, or is designed for sensitive teeth.
Dental floss: Unwaxed floss does a better job of cleaning because it's not slick. However, if your teeth are too tight to accommodate the unwaxed variety, go with a waxed or silky-coated floss.
Electric toothbrush: This moves fast and strokes the teeth more than you could do yourself.
Tongue scraper: Often a bumpy surface on the back of a toothbrush, this scrapes and dislodges odor-and cavity-causing bacteria from the tongue and cheeks.
Oral irrigator: Using pressurized water to dislodge plaque and bacteria between the teeth and under the gumline, an irrigator can flush bacteria from hard-to-reach places.
Our lips age differently than the rest of our skin does: Because the muscles of the lips are in a circle around the mouth, every time the lips contract they get smaller and wrinkle, causing the formation of unwanted vertical lines. Keep your lips looking their best with these preventative tips.
Protect your pucker: The ravages of smoking and sun can be found in the form of vertical pucker lines on the lips. When it comes to smoking, the solution is simple: Don't. When it comes to sun, just protect your lips as you protect your skin: with moisturizer, in the form of a lip balm with SPF.
Get your vitamins: Antioxidants can help reverse sun damage and protect your lips from accelerated aging by encouraging collagen production and inhibiting inflammation from sun exposure. Products that contain a combination of vitamins C and E and melatonin have been shown to prevent and correct the signs of aging by directly targeting free radical damage.
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