Teeth that look white and clean fit with our culture’s focus on youth and beauty. It’s a fact however that that according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, only 4% of survey respondents did not find a link between an attractive smile and a person’s personal charisma.
Dental health, however, extends deeper than enamel, which means that taking care of your teeth and gums can be an overall indicator of body health. Following these steps to whiter teeth will not only aid your pearly whites, but will make positive differences in your overall physical health as well.
1. Brush often.
Brushing your teeth in the manner that your dentist and hygienist advocate is the best method for staving off yellow teeth. Brushing removes food particles and staining agents from the teeth and gums, as well as freshens breath. Brushing is so critical because it is the first line of defense against removing the food that oral bacteria dine on. Bacteria waste products left in the mouth start to acidify and turn teeth yellow over time.
Brushing two or three times daily after a meal ensures that gums stay health, and food does not have a chance to collect in the mouth. Dentists advocate using a soft toothbrush in order to avoid gum damage. If you choose to use a toothpaste with fluoride, ensure that you are brushing for a minimum of two minutes.
2. Floss daily.
Flossing removes plaque and bacteria from between the teeth where the toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing twice a day is ideal, but for optimum health, be sure that one of the sessions is before bed because during sleep, the body produces less saliva which leaves your mouth particularly vulnerable to bacteria. Key tips for flossing include making sure that the floss bends around each tooth and slides under the gum, and paying special attention to the gaps between molars and pre-molars.
3. Dental visits.
Visiting your dentist on an annual basis for a thorough cleaning, x-ray, and oral health exam is very important. Your dentist and hygienist are trained to spot early signs of gum disease, which is largely reversible in itself but can also serve as advance notice of other health issues. Identified and treated early, gum disease and cavities can be easily treated. If you are prone to any type of oral disease, consider visiting your dentist every four months.
Similarly, if you have ongoing health concerns that put you at higher risk for dental problems, such as a suppressed immune system, Type I or Type II diabetes, your dentist may have recommendations for how often to visit. There are special dental hygiene regiments in place for pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant, those with diabetes, chemotherapy and those on certain kinds of anti-epileptic or anti-psychotic medications.
Dentists advise that you examine your own mouth on a regular basis for issues that may pose a problem. Such things may include swollen or bleeding gums, tooth pain or sensitivity, or persistent canker sores. If any of these conditions present themselves, it’s important to go to the dentist as soon as possible.
4. Don’t smoke or use tobacco products.
According to a study in the Journal of Periodontology, people who use any form of tobacco product are 4 times more likely than non-smokers to develop gum disease and cancers of the lip, tongue, cheeks, and gums. Tobacco products also contribute to staining, bad breath, and lack of flavor perception.
5. Watch out for staining foods and beverages.
There are a few big offenders when it comes to tooth stains. In particular, red wine, colas, and coffee are known to stain teeth. While drinking through a straw does tend to minimize how much of the tooth gets ‘washed’ in the liquid once you take a drink, the best remedy is to brush after imbibing.
6. Eat healthy.
Especially critical to oral and tooth health are calcium and vitamin C.Vitamin C, which is found in high quantities in berries, citrus fruits, and melons, as well as broccoli and peppers, boosts gum health and helps to repair tissues, cartilage, bones, and teeth. The antioxidant qualities of vitamin C help combat free radicals that result in the body as byproducts of environmental damage. Calcium rich foods such as milk and dairy products, sardines and kale and fortified cereals help maintain strong bones and teeth.
The effects of sugary and sticky foods that adhere to the crevices of your teeth are particularly bad from a cosmetic viewpoint. Bacteria in the mouth feed off food particles and sugar; their acidic waste products etch the teeth and help cause cavities. The best remedy to unhealthy food is to brush immediately afterward. Barring that, a thorough rinse with water is helpful.
7. Whiten teeth.
Under the care of your dentist, tooth whitening is a very safe procedure that has been proven effective and safe for your teeth. There are two types of products available:
- Over the counter whiteners: Safe and effective when you follow the package directions, over the counter whiteners are considerably cheaper than their professional strength and provide good results for minor staining.
- Professional-strength whitening procedures: Containing higher concentrations of whitening agents and catalysts, professional-strength whitening products are better for more-severe yellowing.
It is important that you speak to your dentist before undergoing any whitening treatment. He or she can advise whether your teeth and gums are healthy enough to undergo the procedure.
8. Consider cosmetic procedures.
As a final option, consider orthodontics, veneers, or other cosmetic procedures to give you the smile that you deserve. Besides unfairly influencing how others see you, having crooked, stained, or missing teeth can affect your confidence.
Over the past few years, cosmetic dentistry has made great strides in fixing most cosmetic problems, however, most cosmetic dentistry is not covered by insurance, and it can be costly. It’s important to request a referral from your dentist in order to have a consultation with an experienced cosmetic dentist prior to undergoing any type of cosmetic repair.