Not only do your teeth help you talk and chew, they can make or break your appearance. Here are 10 secrets for keeping your pearly whites in tip-top shape.
1. Go on a white-teeth diet
If you’re quaffing red wine and black tea, or smoking cigarettes or cigars, expect the results to show up as not-so-pearly whites. Other culprits to blame for dingy teeth include colas, gravies, and dark juices. Bottom line: If it’s dark before you put it in your mouth, it will probably stain your teeth. Brush immediately after eating or drinking foods that stain teeth and use a good bleaching agent for white, healthy teeth, either over-the-counter or in the dentist’s office. For convenient teeth-cleaning action, eat an apple—make sure to brush on these teeth-whitening tips from dentists, too.
2. Chuck your toothbrush…
…or change the head of your electric toothbrush at least every two to three months for healthy teeth. Otherwise, you’re just transferring bacteria to your mouth. According to Beverly Hills dentist Harold Katz, D.D.S., the best way to brush is by placing your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against your gums and gently moving it in a circular motion, rather than a back-and-forth motion. Grip the toothbrush like a pencil so you won’t scrub too hard, and make sure to avoid these other toothbrushing mistakes.
3. Clean your tongue
Use a tongue scraper every morning to remove tongue plaque and freshen your breath. One major cause of bad breath is the buildup of bacteria on the tongue, which a daily tongue scraping will help banish—here are some other causes of bad breath. Plus, using a tongue scraper is more effective than brushing your tongue with a toothbrush, says Dr. Katz.
4. Eat ‘detergent’ foods
Foods that are firm or crisp help clean teeth as they’re eaten. We already mentioned apples (otherwise known as nature’s toothbrush); other choices include raw carrots, celery, and popcorn. For best results, make “detergent” foods the final food you eat in your meal if you know you won’t be able to brush your teeth right after eating.