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ARE YOUR TEETH ageing you? HEALTH MATTERSTo mark National Smile Month, which starts tomorrow, we have all the advice you need to ensure your pearly whites stay that way.

Research shows that 47 per cent of us have moderate to severe gum disease which, if left untreated, can severely affect your teeth.

Just as you cleanse, tone and moisturise your skin, looking after your teeth and gums daily will really show results.

So here's the lowdown on getting healthier teeth.

GUM DISEASE To prevent a build-up of plaque - a sticky bacteria that feeds on food debris left inside the mouth - on teeth and gums, brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day.

If it isn't removed, it multiplies, releasing toxins that cause gum inflammation and bleeding. If left untreated, it can develop into more serious problems and even tooth loss. As well as your regular dentist, aim to visit a dental hygienist every three to six months. They will remove plaque and tartar from tricky areas you might not be able to reach yourself. YELLOWING Smoking, as well as tea, coffee, red wine, fizzy drinks and juices can lead to discolouring, which it's a giveaway of ageing.

Invest in a whitening toothpaste, like Enlighten Evo-White, PS20 (Enlightensmiles.com), which uses enzymes and gentle micro-abrasive ingredients to lift stains from teeth.

Always check with your dentist before using harsh bleaching products. Some teeth actually look yellow because the enamel coating has worn down, either through excessive bleaching or aggressive brushing. The yellow hue is the dentine showing underneath. RECEDING GUMS This recession is actually a long process that can be caused by lots of different factors, including smoking and diabetes, when chemicals released by bacteria destroy the gums and bone structure that hold your teeth in place. It can also be caused by brushing incorrectly, especially if you use a manual toothbrush and press too hard.

Try the Foreo ISSA toothbrush, PS149 (Foreo.com). It uses a supergentle silicone brush and high intensity pulsations to help remove plaque and prevent gum recession. DON'T RINSE While it's OK to spit out excess toothpaste after brushing, try not to rinse your mouth with water. It's important to leave a protective coating of toothpaste on your teeth. FLOSS DAILY Use dental floss or interdental brushes daily to remove plaque between the teeth, or go hi-tech and try Philips Sonicare Airfloss Pro, PS100 (Philips.co.uk), which fires water and air between the teeth.

The more you clean between teeth and gums, the less inflammation and bleeding will occur.

USE A DISCLOSING TABLET These show up patches on your teeth that you're missing while brushing. Areas with plaque stain pink or purple, and the darker the colour, the longer it's been there. MOUTHWASH Ask your dentist to recommend one that's right for you, as some can stain teeth if used incorrectly.

tea, can TOOTH DECAY When we consume sugary or high-carb foods and drinks, bacteria produces acid that dissolves the outer layers of your teeth. Brush your teeth regularly to remove bacteria and cut the amount of sugar you consume.

Always brush your teeth as soon as you get up for added protection. A top tip is to use a straw if you're drinking fizzy drinks or juice and avoid snacking between meals.

Your saliva is the best natural antibacterial mouthwash so chew sugar-free gum for five or 10 mins after eating to help produce more.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 17, 2015
Words:541
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