Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you. Fair or not, you are being judged by your appearance, especially if you are female, and bad teeth top the list of beauty factors that can affect your life and your career in a negative way. It doesn’t help that we see images of people with perfect white Chiclet smiles in every magazine, newspaper, movie and television show. The smile standard has been raised, but you don’t have to resort to harsh chemical treatments or fake veneers to get a white smile; you can do it naturally. Use the following tips to brighten your smile and never hesitate to grin and bear it again.
1. Brush your teeth after every meal, snack or drink. When you eat or drink something and then don’t brush your teeth, your mouth stays saturated in the acidic environment for hours, which dulls and yellows enamel. Practice the oral hygiene routine that your dentist recommends for best results – and remember that a person’s overall health is often reflected by the health of their mouth. Try to brush for two minutes every time.
2. Remember to floss! Teeth often get stained in the crevasses between them – places that you can only clean with the help of floss. Teeth can be white on the flat surfaces but brown and stained in-between, which leads to an overall look of dinginess that can also age you. Join the crowd and be a regular flosser, no less than twice a day. Flossers live longer!
3. Avoid beverages that stain. For some people, avoiding staining beverages like coffee, tea and red wine isn’t worth the stain-free teeth they desire. But if you don’t care about these drinks anyway, skip them and enjoy a whiter, brighter smile.
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4. Try baking soda. While using baking soda every day as your primary toothpaste could wear away enamel, brushing with baking soda every now and then (like once a week) is and old-fashioned way to whiten your teeth. Just ask Grandma.
5. See your dentist. While not a pleasant experience in any way, shape or form, dental care is a luxury that you should always budget for. Your dental hygienist uses metal scrapes, probes and scalers to physically remove stains that you can’t do on your own. Aim to have your teeth cleaned every six months to a year; your smile will be whiter and your future mouth will thank you.
6. Eat foods with whitening properties. While the official scientific studies are out, there are numerous foods purported to clean and whiten teeth when you eat them. Try cheese, strawberries, bay leaves with orange peel, or crunchy vegetables like carrots, celery, broccoli and cucumbers and see what works for you.
7. Wear cool colors. Trick people into thinking your teeth are whiter by avoiding wearing warm colors (yellow, red, orange, brown) in your clothes and makeup. Choose blue-based reds or pinks for lipsticks, and go for clothes in dark colors to camouflage a yellow smile. Always choose natural makeup products from an eco-conscious company.
8. Chew charcoal. An effective poison remedy, activated charcoal (available at health food stores) pulls toxins from the body – and it can also do so in your mouth. Just dip your toothbrush in a small amount powdered charcoal, wet and brush for two minutes. Spit and rinse very well, but take care because charcoal can stain some sinks.
Note: You can also choose to use a commercial teeth whitener or have your smile professionally lightened. Guess what? All at-home and professional whiteners use the same ingredient to brighten teeth: hydrogen peroxide, which is just one molecule away from being water. While it is often produced in a lab, hydrogen peroxide is also a something that almost every living creature produces to fight infections. Is it natural? It’s up to you to decide.
Image: Rupert Taylor Young