Your smile is said to be one of the first things people notice about you, so by extension, your teeth are one of the first things people notice about you. Yellow teeth not only makes you look unkempt, but it also makes you look unhygienic and no one wants that! And let’s not forget all those essential tasks that your teeth help with in your day-to-day life, from chewing food to talking clearly.
If you’re looking for ways to maintain perfectly white and strong teeth, here are some essential tips and tricks for you:
1. The “White” (Teeth) Diet
Love drinking black tea, coffee, or red wine? These beverages may be the ideal pick-me-up on a tough day, but they spell bad news for your pearly whites. According to the American Dental Association, foods and beverages like these contain a dark pigment called chromogens that cling on to the enamel of your teeth, causing stains.
The same effect can be seen in smokers, as tar and nicotine found in tobacco are notorious strainers. If you’re unable to give up drinking coffee or smoking, brushing immediately afterwards can help curtail some of the damage done. You can also talk to your dentist about teeth whitening techniques that you can try at both home and work.
2. Rules of Toothbrushes
If you’ve been using the same toothbrush for over 3 months, chances are you’re just transferring the bacteria around while brushing. It’s not rocket science that after a few months of usage, bacteria can build up on your toothbrush, so it’s best to replace it every 2-3 months. If you’re using an electric toothbrush, just get the head of it replaced.
Harold Katz, a dentist in Beverly Hills, says that the ideal technique to brush your teeth is by holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against your gums and moving it in a gentle circular motion. This is far more effective than the back-and-forth brushing that most of us are used to. He also says to grip the brush like a pencil to avoid scrubbing too hard, which, contrary to what one might think, isn’t good for the enamel of your teeth or gums!
3. A “Detergent” Diet
Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you eat actual detergent! What we mean by “detergent” foods are those foods that help clean your teeth naturally as you eat them. According to the American Dental Association, these are generally crisp or firm, and chewing on these fiber-rich foods stimulates saliva production that can help prevent tooth decay.
Apples, carrots, celery, popcorn, and cucumbers are just a few examples that you can include in your diet. Ideally, you can make these the last thing you eat so that you can get a similar effect to brushing after a meal.
4. The Baking Soda Trick
You might have heard that baking soda can be helpful in cleaning a variety of household products from dirty dishes to worn-out jewelry, but did you know it can also help you get sparkling white teeth? All you have to do is make a paste of some baking soda and water and use it just as you would toothpaste to brush your teeth with the help of a toothbrush. You can do this once a day or once a week, depending on your personal requirements.
5. Freshness Check
If you feel like your mouth needs a freshness check, you can simply lick your palm and give it a sniff. If it smells bad, it’s time for some mouthwash, or a sugar-free breath mint if you’re in a real pinch!
Dr. Katz also advises that you check the ingredients of the mouthwash before you buy it. If it contains alcohol, he says it’s a big no-no. This is because alcohol can dry out the tissues in your mouth, which would make them more vulnerable to bacteria. This is something you must be careful about because alcohol is an ingredient in most over-the-counter mouthwashes.
6. Expert Level Flosser
You most likely have only ever flossed in front of the mirror, so even if you’re in a pinch, you’d find yourself scrambling around for one. So here’s what you can do: practice flossing with your eyes closed!
If you don’t need the help of a mirror to floss, you can do it literally anywhere: in bed, in your car, before that important client meeting, at the restaurant on date night. We’re kidding about the last one… don’t do that. Just make sure to buy packets of floss in bulk so that you can stash them in multiple places and have them available whenever you need it.
7. The Rule of Twos
The American Dental Association advises that you brush at least twice a day and for at least 2 minutes each time, making sure to thoroughly cover all areas of your teeth. You should brush once in the morning so that you can start the day feeling clean and fresh, and once again at night before bed so that you can rid your mouth of all the bacteria and plaque that has accumulated over the course of the day.
8. Complementary Color
If you’re someone that wears lipstick, you can manipulate your teeth into looking brighter and whiter with the help of complementary colors such as blue-toned reds and pinks. Jessice Liebeskind, founder of Vintage Cosmetics and makeup artist from New York City, says that “blue tones help counteract yellow and make teeth look brighter”. But whatever you do, she says, you should avoid lipsticks that have gold of yellow undertones as they can make your teeth look a little dingy.
9. Rinse after Eating Citrus
Citrus fruits are an essential part of anyone’s diet as they provide you with much needed Vitamin C, but they aren’t exactly “tooth-friendly”. Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and limes also contain large amounts of acid, and these can end up eroding the enamel of your teeth, making them weaker and much more susceptible to stains.
So it’s best to rinse your mouth after eating such acidic foods, or you can take it a step further and rinse using a concoction of one-third cider vinegar and two-thirds water. This is a much more effective mouth cleaner that is also completely natural!