How to achieve perfect pearly whites and make that crucial good first impression.
1. Floss First
Good oral hygiene is the foundation for everything else. Floss before you brush, using floss tape and/or a plastic interdental brush at a size that suits any gaps between your teeth. This will dislodge as much as 40 per cent more food particles and/or plaque than brushing alone. In terms of technique, don’t simply saw back and forwards. Angle the tape so that it gets just beneath the gumline and ensure that the brush gets at spots where the gum and teeth meet. The trick is to be gentle but firm.
2. Brushing: Two By Two
It’s tempting, when you’re running late for work or in a hurry to hit the sack, to give your teeth a quick frothy brush and think that’s good enough. But dental experts advise you to brush twice a day for two minutes. Most electric toothbrush models nowadays have a two-minute timer built in. So simply keep brushing until it runs out. In terms of technique, keep the brush head on individual teeth, positioned partly over the enamel and partly over the gum. Take your time on each tooth and let the movement of the bristles should do the work. If you’re using a regular toothbrush, make sure it’s a good quality model with ridged and countoured bristles that aren’t overly softened by use and that are able to reach into gaps between teeth. Brush in a gentle circular motion. In terms of coverage, it helps to mentally divide your mouth into quarters and tackle a quadrant at a time. But remember that harder isn’t better: aim to “tickle” your teeth because overly vigorous brushing can damage your gums and tooth enamel. Also: rather than rinsing, just spit out what’s in your mouth, leaving the fluoride to continue to work its wonders. While two minutes can seem like an eternity, you’ll soon get used to this as part of your routine. It helps to think of it as extension of your shower “thinking time”.
3. Cut Back On The Sugar & Stainers
Sugar is a big culprit when it comes to tooth decay as its presence in the mouth releases acids that damage your protective (and pretty) tooth enamel. Experts advise limiting intake of refined sugar to four to six teaspoons per day. If that sounds like a big ask, there are ways you can eat a little more without increasing the risk of a ruined smile. When drinking sugar-heavy juices or soft drinks, use a straw that will deliver the deliciousness to the back of your tongue rather than swirling the sugar all over your choppers. After consumption of such a drink, rinse your mouth with a glass of water and/or chew sugar-free gum to reduce residual sugars. As for coffee heavy stains will have to be removed by a dentist during your regular visits. Cigarettes pose more of a problem than simply staining because smoking reduces blood flow to the gums, increasing the chances of gum disease and tooth loss. Smokers are a whopping 10 times more likely to develop gum disease. Best bet? Quit. Second-best? Ensure your dentist regularly checks for gingivitis and the early signs of periodontal disease, which can result in tooth loss and is painful and costly to treat.
4. Whiten & Brighten
Whitening toothpaste doesn’t really work to give you a dazzlingly bright smile. Their active ingredients are best suited to removing some superficial stains. Those studies they cite where people see radical results? They’re done on people who brush infrequently or whose teeth were the colour of caramel to begin with. So, to get pearly whites that’re really bright, consult your dentist, who will likely use a six per cent hydrogen peroxide solution – that’s about 60 times stronger than what’s found in whitening toothpastes. After his or her professional start, you’ll be able to buy a home kit for maintenance. Full whitening takes up to two weeks.
5. Straighten Up
While braces are costly, a year or two’s inconvenience and expense is preferable to being afraid to smile for the rest of your life. “Invisible” braces —such as Invisalign — have also taken much of the stigma out of being a “train-track” mouth. These aligners, which look like gum shields and are worn about 22 hours per day, are swapped out every few weeks, fractionally moving the teeth into line. The cost is likely to be between $5000 and $10,000, with teeth straightened over an average of 15 months.
6. Cap Those Choppers
Teeth that are a little worn, permanently stained or oddly shaped can be made new again with veneers, which are thin layers of porcelain glued over the natural tooth. It’s not cheap: you’re looking at between $1600 and $2400 per tooth. The procedure involves making a mould of your mouth from which to make the veneer and then having the porcelain fitted under local anaesthetic. But, with proper care, your teeth will look new and perfect for the rest of your days.