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It’s Your Smile Turn Your Frown Upside Down! By Dr. Jernell Escobar Dr. Escobar has been practicing dentistry in the Bay Area since 2006. She took over Dr. Palmerlee’s practice when he retired in 2012. She is passionate about providing exceptional oral health care in a patient centered environment. Dr. Escobar participates in continuing education seminars with other leading clinicians in exploring new and innovative methods and materials for restoring smiles. A smile costs nothing but gives much. A smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, because it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. Research has proven that smiling is a “natural drug” because it improves ones health by reducing stress, boosting ones immune system, lowering blood pressure, preventing one from looking tired, and shows one’s confi- dence. Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever, and seratonin. So, the simple act of smiling not only sends a message to your brain that you’re happy, it also sends a message to others and can make them happy too. Studies have shown that something as simple as seeing a friend smile can activate the muscles in your face to make that same expression, without you even being aware that you are doing it. And, it’s not something we think of much, but our teeth have a very important role in smiling. Our teeth help us chew and digest food, they help us to talk and speak clearly, they also give our face its shape, but they also help with our smile. People with healthy teeth and gums smile more often, and when you smile more often, you have better self-confidence, you feel hap- pier, you change your physical appearance, you have a more positive mind-set, you’re less stressed out and you feel healthier. It makes sense, then, to help maintain that smile, to give your oral health the best care possible. In the U.S., the first week of August was National Smile Week, although it was really celebrated the whole month. In the United Kingdom, they have a National Smile Month, the UK’s largest and longest-running oral health campaign that hopes to raise awareness of important health issues, and make a positive difference to the oral health of millions of people. With that in mind, here are some of their top tips for good oral health, to keep you smiling, taken from their website • Clean in between your teeth using inter- dental brushes or floss. This helps clean a higher portion of the tooth and prevent the build-up of plaque. • A diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fresh fruit and vegetables can help prevent gum disease. • Eating and drinking naturally weakens the enamel on your teeth, and brushing after- wards can cause tiny particles of enamel GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 to be brushed away. It is best not to brush your teeth until at least one hour after eating. • Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva to help prevent your mouth from drying out. • Always tell your dentist about changes to your health, as it may help them prevent gum disease from developing. • Use a mouthwash containing anti-bacterial to help control gum disease. • If you or your child has a sweet tooth, look for sugar-free sweets. • Quitting smoking will help you reduce the chances of developing a whole host of oral health problems, including gum disease, tooth decay, yellow teeth and mouth cancer. • Don’t forget to brush your tongue, or use a tongue scraper. • Electric toothbrushes are more effective at removing plaque. Those with head s that rotate in both directions (“oscillating” heads) and pulsate are the most effective. They are particularly useful for people with limited movement, such as disabled or elderly people, who often find that using a manual toothbrush does not allow them to clean thoroughly. • Cold sores are infectious and the infect- ing virus can be passed to other people by close contact (such as kissing). A cold sore is most infectious when it is blistering. It is important to try and avoid touching cold sores as you can pass the virus on to other people’s hands and even, very rarely, to your own eyes. Avoid squeezing, pinching or pricking the cold sore as this can spread the infection. • If you wear dentures, the general rule is: brush, soak, brush. Always clean your den- tures over a bowl of water or a folded towel in case you drop them. Brush your dentures before soaking, to help remove any food debris. Using an effervescent (fizzy) denture cleaner will help remove stubborn stains and leave your denture feeling fresher. • It is better for your teeth and general health if you eat three meals a day plus no more than two snacks, instead of having lots of snack attacks. • It is better for your teeth if you drink fruit juices just at meal times. If you are drinking them between meals, try diluting them with water and rinsing your mouth with water after drinking. Drinking through a straw can help the drink go to the back of your mouth without touching your teeth. • And, of course, visit your dentist regularly. Twice a year is recommended. 25