Teeth can be a source of insecurity. Many young people are teased because of the positioning or the appearance of their teeth. Part of the problem is how teeth and oral health are presented in the media. Everyone you see nowadays, from television and the big screen to social media, has straight white teeth. Naturally, every kid wants to look exactly like their favorite celebrities.
However, brushing and flossing regularly would not be enough to make their teeth look perfect. They would need to undergo processes to achieve that sparkling white and aligned teeth.
Beyond the superficial, what do healthy teeth, gums, and mouth look like?
Gaps: a Feature or a Flaw?
Teeth do not always grow where they are supposed to. Some people end up with noticeable gaps between their teeth, often between the two upper front teeth. Gaps between the teeth can be endearing. In the past years, models like Lily Aldridge and actors like Dakota Johnson rocked their gaps like it is the hottest accessory on the red carpet.
Many kids get teased about it, so they get braces and eventually bonded retainer to remove the space between their teeth.
In most cases, a gap, or diastema, is a cosmetic issue. It might disappear as soon as kids lose their milk teeth and the permanent teeth grow in. Among adults, it is typically not a problem.
How Is Your Bite?
Your bite, the way your upper and lower teeth meet, can impact not just your smile, but your overall health, too. When you bite, your upper teeth should protrude slightly over your lower teeth. If your front teeth sit too far over or in front of your lower teeth, then you have an overbite. If your lower teeth lands in front of your front teeth, you have an underbite. Only the first one, when the upper teeth fit over your lower teeth, is considered healthy. The other two may cause problems.
A person who has either an overbite or underbite may have difficulties chewing. They may experience speech and breathing difficulties and grind their teeth, especially while sleeping. They may have an unusual facial appearance depending on the severity of the alignment. They are also at a higher risk of having tooth decay and gum disease.
Wearing braces and retainers can correct a person’s bite. The dentist may also suggest tooth removal if there is an overcrowding problem. In some cases, surgery is necessary to reshape the jaw.
Is Teeth Supposed to be White or Yellow?
Your teeth should not be yellow, but it should not be white either. Healthy teeth have a light gray or light yellow tone. Although the enamel, the top layer of the teeth, has a natural bluish-white color, it is also very translucent. The color of the dentin beneath, which is yellow, is visible.
If your teeth are darker, it might be due to smoking. Eating blueberries or drinking coffee and tea may stain your teeth, too. A diet that is high in sugar may also affect the color of your teeth.
You can whiten your teeth using a bleaching agent but only do so under the guidance of a professional. Be careful about using at-home treatments. These products may permanently damage your teeth. Visit your dentist to discuss the procedure. Brushing your teeth regularly will prevent darkening and maintain their natural, healthy color.
What About Your Gums?
Your gums are supposed to be pink, not red or white. It should be firm when you touch it, not swollen or loose. It also should not be bleeding whenever you floss.
If your gums are red and puffy, you probably have gingivitis, a.k.a. gum disease. The usual cause of gingivitis is inadequate oral hygiene. Although it is mild, it should be immediately addressed before it develops into a more serious problem. You will need to schedule an appointment with your dentist to treat gingivitis, and you should do it as soon as possible. The sooner it is treated, the easier it will be to reverse the damage it has wrought on your gums.
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing once a day will prevent gingivitis. You should also eat a well-balanced diet and quit your vices (smoking) to protect your gum from inflammation. Most importantly, visit your dentist every six months.
Teeth, like people, are different. A crooked tooth or a gap does not make your smile inferior to your peers. As long as your teeth are not causing you pain or discomfort, you should not worry about them.