Are you concerned about your smile’s appearance? You’re not alone: Americans worry most about how their teeth look, more so than their hair or weight.
Having a healthy, bright smile gives you confidence that can improve all areas of your life. If yours could use a little extra help, read on. Here’s our guide on how to have a better smile you can proudly flash.
Brush and Floss Properly
Most of us already know we should brush and floss our teeth daily, but how many of us are doing it properly?
For starters, make sure you’re devoting enough time to actually brushing. Many people think a quick scrub that lasts about 30 seconds is enough to clean away plaque and keep cavity bugs away.
The truth is you should brush your teeth for at least two minutes to adequately reach all surfaces. If you have a hard time sticking to this length, try playing your favorite song on your phone or setting the timer for two minutes.
Brush twice a day using a soft-bristled manual or electric toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Scrub gently in small circles and angle the brush slightly so the bristles can clean away plaque at the gumline. Use a light touch; pressing the brush too hard against your teeth can damage tooth enamel and hurt your gums.
What’s even better than brushing twice a day? Brushing three times daily. A European study found that brushing teeth three times during the day decreases your risk of developing heart disease.
Floss at least once a day. Flossing helps reduce your risk of developing gingivitis, the earliest (and reversible) stage of gum disease.
If you find wrapping the floss around your fingers to be a chore, use handheld flosses to make the task easier.
Replace your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every three months. Using a toothbrush with worn-out bristles won’t clean your teeth as effectively.
Visit the Dentist Regularly
There’s no getting around this one: even if your oral hygiene routine is meticulous, you still need to visit a dentist every six months for cleanings and exams. Think of your dentist as your superhero oral health partner when it comes to battling cavities and other dental problems.
A dentist will check your teeth for cavities, cracks, chips, and any other damage that requires treatment. Regular dental visits catch small dental problems before they can become bigger ones that cause pain and are more expensive to fix.
Your dentist will also check the condition of your current dental work such as fillings and crowns to make sure they’re still maintaining your teeth. They will also examine your gums for any signs of gum disease. The dentist and hygienist will also provide guidance on how you can improve your at-home dental care routine.
Many dentists do more than perform fillings and root canals; they usually offer several services that can improve your smile’s appearance. Once any problems have been treated, a dentist can provide veneers, teeth whitening, and other cosmetic procedures to make your smile look brighter and more symmetrical.
Don’t have a dentist, or feel nervous about visiting one? Ask friends, family members, and coworkers for recommendations. If you’re afraid of having dental work done, search for a dentist that offers sedation dentistry in a comfortable office environment.
Watch What You Eat and Drink
Many of us grew up hearing how awful sugar can be for our teeth. You can definitely reduce your risk of getting cavities by limiting sweetened foods and drinks in between brushing.
Soda is one of the biggest culprits that cause tooth decay. A 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola contains 39 grams of sugar — not exactly something you want your teeth exposed to if you want to have a healthy smile. Sodas also tend to be acidic so they can damage your teeth’s enamel.
Opt for plain or sparkling water instead of soda, or drink water after having a sweet beverage to neutralize some of the sugar. Be aware that fruit juice—despite the vitamins and other nutrients it provides—can be high in sugar as well.
If you must have soda or another sweetened drink, use a straw to prevent it from coming into contact with your teeth.
In addition to limiting candy, cookies, pastries, and other sweets, you should also steer clear of consuming a lot of sticky foods. Crackers, chips, and dried fruit can cause cavities just like gooey candy can. Sugars and carbohydrates in these foods create food for bacteria in our mouths to feast on, leading to tooth decay.
Avoid Biting Down on Hard Foods
Popcorn, peanut brittle, hard candy, and other treats may be tasty, but they can chip or crack your teeth. Take care when eating extremely hard foods, or avoid them altogether. Chewing ice cubes is another no-no that can lead to emergency dental care.
To protect your teeth, never use them as a tool for biting into and cutting something. They weren’t designed for that purpose. Biting into something hard can damage a tooth.
Take Care Eating Acidic Foods
Acidic foods including citrus fruits and juices and wine can soften and wear away tooth enamel over time. Take care not to brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes after consuming acidic food or beverage. Cleaning your teeth too soon can remove some of the enamel.
Unfortunately, once tooth enamel is gone it won’t come back. This can make your teeth more susceptible to decay and other dental problems.
Natural Tooth Cleansing Foods
When possible, snack on foods that are considered nature’s toothbrush. Crunchy fruits and vegetables including apples, carrots, and celery help scrub tooth surfaces and create more saliva that helps neutralize harmful mouth acids.
Hard cheeses also contain substances that can neutralize these acids as well. If you can’t brush following a meal or sugary snack, eating a piece of cheese can help protect your teeth. Cheese also contains calcium which is needed for strong teeth.
Eating a healthy balanced diet with a good mix of vegetables, fruit, dairy products, and lean protein can help keep your gums and teeth healthy.
Have Missing Teeth Replaced
Did you know that a missing tooth can cause other teeth to shift and lean out of place? Having a gap in your smile removes support for the teeth around it and can lead to dental problems. Your smile may also become lopsided as you make take to chewing on one side of your mouth to compensate.
A dental implant is an ideal solution for a missing tooth, or teeth. Dental implants look, feel, and function just like natural teeth. Some implants are designed to replace one tooth while others can replace several teeth as once.
Best of all, dental implants help restore your confidence. They can’t stain or develop decay as natural teeth can. If your dentist doesn’t offer dental implant services, they can refer you to an oral surgeon who does.
Other tooth replacement options include bridges and removable dentures. Your dentist can give you recommendations for the best tooth replacement solutions.
Look Into Cosmetic Dentistry Options
From straightening to whitening, there are several ways dental professionals can makeover your smile.
One of the most popular ways to enhance your smile is teeth whitening. Whitening your teeth can take years off your appearance and get rid of dingy yellowing.
It’s a good idea to check with your dentist to learn if you should attempt a whitening product at home, or receive in-office whitening. Many dentists offer products and equipment that can whiten teeth in their office in under an hour.
If your teeth have chips or are irregularly shaped, your dentist may recommend having veneers done. These are a thin covering usually made of porcelain that is placed over a tooth to enhance its appearance.
If crooked teeth are ruining your smile, your dentist can refer you to an orthodontist who can provide straightening options. It may also be possible to straighten your teeth using Invisalign or another at-home tray aligner solution.
If you’re a smoker who wants a better-looking smile, you may want to kick the habit for good. Cigarettes not only stain and yellow teeth, but they can make certain dental procedures such as implants tougher to recover from. That’s because they affect blood flow, which is needed for speedy healing.
Smoking can also lead to gum disease and oral cancer. Quit smoking, and you may just see a brighter smile looking back at you in the mirror.
Remember How to Have a Better Smile With These Tips
Knowing how to have a better smile takes a combination of good habits and professional care to keep your teeth in top shape. Follow these tips so you can brush up in any areas that need improvement and enjoy a healthy smile for life! For more dental care tips and to learn about the latest cosmetic dentistry procedures.