Allow me to paint a picture of why you should take care of your pearly whites.

Remember the tooth-losing fad of elementary school? Me too. Lucky for you, we probably had very different experiences. I watched friend after friend come to school with more gaps in their mouths, and continued pressing my fingers to my teeth, hoping to feel even the slightest of movement. But alas, my date with the Tooth Fairy still hadn’t come.

Instead, I had a full set of adult teeth growing in behind my baby teeth. While I thought this was fascinating and unique, my dentist—and more importantly, my mother—was not thrilled. In addition to my 20 stubborn baby teeth, I now had 28 new ones rapidly moving in. My teeth began to be shifted around by one another, angrily attempting to force one another out. My family began calling me Fang, due to the tooth I had hanging over my bottom lip at all times, caveman style.

I thought I was the bee’s knees. Who cared that I hadn’t lost any teeth? I was practically ready for shark conversion! Well, eventually my stint as “shark girl” came to an end, and it was time to lose my teeth whether I was ready or not.

All in all, I lost four teeth on my own, and had 16 pulled. Though I was sad to see my baby teeth go, I’ve grown quite accustom to my adult teeth and try to take care of them to the best of my ability, and you should too.

Dental Care 101

Brushing your teeth twice every day is nonnegotiable! You should be using a pea-size amount of toothpaste with your soft-bristled toothbrush. Each tooth-brushing should take two minutes—don’t forget to brush your tongue after you finish with your teeth. Your toothbrush should be replaced every three or four months and especially after contagious illness.

Although it’s annoying, flossing is important too. That small strand reaches the lingering decay-causing bacteria that your toothbrush won’t reach. Dental floss will help get rid of plaque and leftover food between your teeth and gums. There’s even variety—you can use waxed, unwaxed, flavored, or unflavored floss. My favorite is Tom’s natural floss, made from ingredients I can actually pronounce!

Finally, make sure you visit your dentist twice a year for cleanings. Professional cleanings and regular examinations will help you identify potential oral problems before they become serious issues.

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Thanks to the following organizations for informing the content of this article:
American Dental Association
National Institute of Health