Teeth are sometimes under appreciated compared to other parts of our body. We use them to chew, gnash, crunch, mash and, yes, open up tricky packages (a no-no, indeed, but it happens none-the-less). Still, they're amazingly resilient.
We also use our teeth, sometimes unknowingly, to make an impression on those around us. After all, a pretty, healthy and vibrant smile is often considered a desirable trait since it demonstrates good hygiene.
Outside of seeing your dentist every 6 months for a basic cleaning, there are a few keys to obtaining an alluring smile. In general, steer clear of foods and beverages that stain, brush at least twice a day and treat any oral issues, including gum disease, chipped teeth and cavities. Outlined below are helpful tips and amazing products that'll leave you with a healthier, gleamy-er grin.
Walk through any oral hygiene aisle and you'll find yourself overwhelmed by the massive quantities of teeth whitening products decorating shelves. With so many promising packages to choose from, it's difficult to settle on one.
Still, one product seems to get rave review after rave review: Crest 3D White Whitestrips
($46). This system is formulated with the same enamel-safe whitening ingredient that dentists use, removing both surface stains and those below the tooth's surface.
If you prefer a non-strip whitening method, which is sometimes painful for those with sensitive gums, consider an alternative. For example, Go Smile 7-Day Smile Whitening System
($89) uses ampules to help you get sparkling white teeth in a week's time. Trial participants reported zero sensitivity with this system.
Other whitening systems that've received positive reviews include GLO Brilliant Personal Teeth Whitening Device
($275), an "at-home teeth whitening system that uses innovative, patent-pending technology to deliver professional, clinically-proven, long-lasting results"; and S.MILE Aquafresh White Trays
($35), a 3-day whitening system that uses trays and gel.
Looking for an at-home remedy? Dr. Catrise Austin
, dentist to celebs and author of 5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile
, says you can make your own homemade whitening paste.
"Take one ripe strawberry, add a tablespoon of baking soda [and] mash until you have a strawberry paste," she says. "Apply [the] paste to teeth with a toothbrush and let it set for five minutes, then rinse. Do this for seven to 10 days for a whiter smile without breaking the bank!"
Once you've achieved your desired whiteness, keep teeth white with touch up products, whitening toothpastes and oral rinses. Try Go Smile's "Touch Up" Flavor Variety Set
($28), SuperSmile Whitening Oral Rinse
($14) and Marvis' Whitening Mint Toothpaste
If stronger teeth is your primary mission, your best bet is a toothpaste that contains high amounts of fluoride. Fluoride toothpastes both strengthen your tooth enamel and ward off cavities. Try something like Go Smile's AM & PM Whitening Protection Fluoride Toothpastes
($30), which whitens and strengthens at the same time.
Apply toothpaste with a quality toothbrush and brush for no less than two minutes at a time. Unbeknownst to many, not all toothbrushes are created equal. You'll find that electronic or battery-operated toothbrushes
get teeth cleaner in a more efficient manner than basic toothbrushes. I recommend something like Sonicare's Essense Toothbrush
($99), an investment that pays for itself.
Because cavities commonly form between teeth -- where food gets stuck and then breaks down -- you'll also want to floss your teeth at least once every day. Consistent flossing is key to proper dental health and also makes your breath smell better. Make the flossing experience a more pleasant one with Alessi Otto's Dental Floss Dispenser
($14). Kids love this, but a little fun is always good for adults, too.
Lastly, to achieve stronger teeth and an overall healthier smile, take very good care of your gums.
"By far, the biggest threat to healthy teeth is gum disease," writes Peter Jaret on WebMD
. "The risk of gum problems increases with age, especially as pockets form at the gum line where bacteria can grow. Left untreated, bacterial infections can cause inflammation that damages connective tissue and even bone, leading to tooth loss."
Keep gums healthy by brushing them gently when brushing your teeth, flossing regularly and by using an antibacterial mouthwash every time you wash.
"Since gum disease is an inflammatory process, eating foods that suppress inflammation may help," says Jaret. "Growing evidence suggests that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help dampen inflammation. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish, fish oil, and flaxseed."
More Products for a Better Smile
Just like the rest of your skin, lips are susceptible to dead skin cell build up and should be treated accordingly. Use a product like Bliss - Fabulips Foaming Lip Cleanser
($18), a tasty formula featuring cocoa butter, shea butter and rice bran extract that "gently cleanses lips, lifting away impurities like food residue and lip color." I'm also a huge fan of Phytomer's Exfoliating Radiance Gel and Plumping Nourishing Balm Lip Duo
($49.30). The gel removes dead skin and softens lips. The balm plumps lips and fills fine lines.
Nothing's more off putting than a foul-smelling mouth. Keep things smelling ultra fresh with breath fresheners. I'm a fan of Booty Parlor's Kissaholic Aphrodisiac-Infused Breath Mist
($6), a cinnamon-meets-minty breath mist that's discreet enough to keep in your pocket or coin purse. Also try LUSH's Dirty Toothy Tabs
($3.95), innovative solid toothpaste tabs that clean your teeth and leave your mouth minty fresh. Perfect for over-nighters.
Okay, so red lipstick doesn't actually do anything to your teeth, but swiping a blue-tinted red lipstick across your pucker will make your teeth look whiter and brighter. Try it if you don't believe me! If you want sheer, try Laura Mercier's Hydratint SPF 15 Lip Balm
($20). For something bolder, opt for Lancome's L'Absolu Nu
Plan the Perfect Valentine's Day Date
Best Things to Buy in February
Better with Age: Best Serums for Face, Neck and Eyes
5 Amazing Products for Kissable Lips