What do you think of when you think of a “healthy smile”?
The straight white-picket-fence of smiles?
What if we told you that there’s a lot more to it than that. In fact, while everyone might crave a Hollywood-esque perfectly straight, gleaming white smile, it doesn’t mean that smile is necessarily healthy.
In fact, as we mentioned in our recent blog post here, we think all smiles are beautiful as long as they’re healthy: gap tooth, snaggletooth, long canines---we’ll take it! As long as you take good care of your teeth, we think you should be proud to show it off to the world.
In this blog post, we put together a list of 5 signs of a healthy smile to help you and your whole family (doggos included) keep your smiles happy and bright!
#1 FRESH BREATH. Ok, so your breath doesn’t have to smell like the inside of a listerine bottle, but you should have neutral-smelling breath. What causes breath to smell? When food particles aren’t properly removed from your mouth, bacteria accumulate on the ‘leftovers’. That bacteria eventually releases sulfur compounds causing your breath to smell.
The solution? Brush, Floss, Repeat. Keep that mouth free of last night’s chicken curry and you and anyone you come into contact with will thank you.
A note: If your halitosis becomes chronically bad, that there may be a more serious underlying condition. Some factors that might also lead to persistent bad breath include:
- Gum disease
- Tobacco consumption
- Dry mouth resulting from sleep issues or certain medications
- Ill-fitting dental implants leading to overgrowth of bacteria
- Tonsil stones (basically like plaque for your tonsils)
- Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, sinus issues, metabolic disorders, hormone imbalances, and gastrointestinal issues
*One last thing about bad breath: Stanky breath in your pup is not terribly uncommon. However, if you notice a change and the smell is really overpowering, make sure that you are taking the steps to properly clean your doggo’s mouth. Not sure where to start?
#2 PINK, NICELY FITTING GUMS. We all know that gums should not be red, swollen, bleeding, or tender to the touch as these can be indications of gum disease. However, did you know that your gums shouldn’t be too pale either? Pale gums is a common sign of anemia, or iron deficiency. Therefore, if you have pale or white gums, you should get them checked out not only by your dentist but also by your doctor. Although rare, they can also be a sign of leukoplakia, oral lichen planus, and even menopause.
Speaking of gums, we know it’s a bit odd to say “nicely fitting”, but what we mean by that is there are no gaps or pockets indicating excessive plaque build-up or, conversely, there is no indication of too-tight receding gums.
The best way to make sure you have nicely-fitting gums? Say it with us: FLOSS. FLOSS. FLOSS.
#3 PINK CHEEKS AND TONGUE. Like your gums, your other oral tissues should be a nice pink color and not be swollen in appearance. Typically, a slight white coating in the tongue is not uncommon, but if it is excessive on either tongue or cheeks it can be indicative of a viral or fungal infection, leukoplakia, abuse of tobacco or alcohol, dehydration, dry mouth, or even syphilis. You might also want to watch out for a tongue that looks swollen or inflamed as this may be symptomatic of low iron or a sluggish thyroid. For both cheeks and tongue, watch out for unusual lumps, bleedings or persistent ulcers as these can indicate more serious conditions such as vitamin deficiency, bacterial infection, inflammatory bowel disease, or even cancer.
#4 STRONG TEETH. Your teeth should be strong, unbroken and, while they don’t need to be perfectly white, they should have a nice shine and not be terribly discolored. Brittle teeth can indicate weakening enamel which can be caused by cavities, excessive consumption of acidic foods or drinks, smoking, or even morning sickness. Discoloration can simply be a sign of exterior stains from the usual culprits of coffee or tea or cigarettes, but it can also be an early indication of dental decay and improper dental hygiene. For a full comprehensive list on what causes yellowing, check out this blog post.
The lesson here? Don’t smoke... and brush those teeth!
#5 PROPER TOOTH ALIGNMENT. Have you noticed that your teeth are a bit more snuggled up next to each other than they used to be? Sudden tooth crowding or malocclusion can be indications of bruxism (aka tooth grinding), temporomandibular joint disorder, or even gum disease! If not treated properly, it will not only impact the efficacy of your oral care cleaning regimen, but it can even change the shape of your face! If you are experiencing these issues, make an appointment to see your dentist ASAP so you can take the proper steps toward realigning those chompers.
With these guidelines, you and your loved ones (Fido included!) should be well on your way to having an A+, dentist-approved smile.