TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING?
Those glaringly white, completely even celebrity smiles that many consider “perfect” can actually be unsettling and off-putting when encountered in “real life”. No one naturally has a truly perfect smile.
This is why we always recommend an “imperfectly perfect” smile to achieve a natural-looking end result you can feel good about and proud to show off.
It may seem counterintuitive, but believe us, natural imperfections are critical to achieving a natural, perfect-appearing smile.
Here are five ways to improve your smile at home and at the dentist without overdoing it:
1. AT HOME: DEVELOP HEALTHY DENTAL HYGIENE HABITS.
The best way to improve your smile without overdoing it is by taking preventative measures to preserve your natural teeth and avoid extensive cosmetic work. Developing healthy dental hygiene habits at home will help you to maintain not only your existing beautiful smile along with any work you have already had done but also any future cosmetic work you may have. The goal is to keep the need for extensive cosmetic work to a minimum.
So you know where we are going with this, right? Yes, that means brushing two to three minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing once each day.
When it comes to brushing, two is the magic number. It’s often enough to clear out build-up that has developed throughout the day or night. Brushing more often than twice a day regularly can actually be detrimental to the health of your teeth, as it can lead to wearing down of your enamel.
You also want to be gentle when brushing. If your toothbrush bristles are splayed out like a frazzled porcupine, you are using far too much pressure and could be wearing down your enamel.
Flossing has had some mixed reviews from the media lately, but even so, we strongly suggest continuing to floss regularly as it is able to reach the areas your toothbrush cannot. If you aren’t flossing you are missing a full one-third of the surface area of your teeth. Don’t worry too much about whether to floss before or after. It is totally up to your preference – what matters most is that you build the consistent habit of flossing every single day to remove plaque build-up.
We brush and floss to remove plaque build-up. Plaque contains bacteria that produce acids that break down enamel and lead to cavities when not managed. Not only do brushing and flossing reduce plaque build-up on teeth, but they also stimulate the gums. This helps to lower inflammation in that area, thereby reducing the risk of periodontal disease (also known as gum disease).
2. AT THE DENTIST: REPLACE MISSING TEETH.
Replacing a missing tooth will drastically improve your smile. To maintain a natural smile you feel good about, you want to limit the cosmetic procedures you have done; but replacing a missing tooth is never one of those procedures to be skipped. It improves not just your smile esthetically but also its overall health by preventing other teeth from shifting out of place and potentially putting your bite out of alignment.
For most patients, a dental bridge takes just two appointments, while a dental implant can take up to a year till the final prosthetic is placed. However, a dental implant is ideal in most situations as it does not rely on surrounding teeth for support. A bridge, on the other hand, does rely on surrounding teeth, which can put added pressure on the teeth acting as the abutments.
3. AT HOME: PREVENT SURFACE STAINS.
Let’s start with the good news, shall we? There are foods you can eat that can help whiten your teeth as well as help keep your mouth cleaner.
Strawberries contain malic acid, which can help to whiten teeth. That said, please don’t ever try DIY remedies that require you to apply the strawberry paste directly to your teeth. Keeping the malic acid on your teeth for a prolonged amount of time will have a detrimental effect of dissolving away the protective enamel coating of your teeth. Once your enamel is gone, it’s gone – so please keep this in mind when considering at-home remedies found on the Internet.
Eating apples, celery and carrots will cause the mouth to produce more saliva, which you can think of as the mouth’s natural cleaning agent, because it is! The crunch of these fruits and veggies also helps to keep teeth clean while eating.
Tart fruits like oranges and pineapples also increase saliva production. Just as with strawberries, though, be wary when it comes to lemons and oranges as they are very acidic, and extended direct contact will damage your enamel.
Okay, you heard the good news. Now here’s the bad: If you are an avid soda, coffee or sugary-beverage drinker you should cut back. Bacteria found in plaque convert sugars into acids that go on to break down that all-so-important enamel layer. Additionally, many of these beverages are naturally acidic in themselves.
When possible, use a straw when consuming these beverages to avoid contact with teeth, and balance out consumption with an equal intake of water. Drinking water throughout the day and between these sugary, acidic drinks will help to rinse away some of the acids that form on your teeth as a result.
4. AT THE DENTIST: TOOTH WHITENING
You should know, however, that these home remedies will only help prevent surface stains. Did you know there are actually two causes for the yellow appearance of teeth?
The first, staining, can usually be remedied at home by using a whitening toothpaste for a few weeks. If you aren’t seeing results by the end of two weeks, you most likely have yellowing due to the natural aging of teeth.
Deep within the tooth is a tissue called dentin. As we age, dentin begins to yellow and is then refracted through our enamel, giving the tooth a yellow appearance. Whitening gels we use in the office permeate through the outer layer of your teeth to whiten the dentin below.
Admittedly, there are whitening gel kits available over the counter, but they are best avoided as they are not custom-fitted to your teeth. At-home kits often lead to gum agitation and uneven results. More alarmingly, these at-home treatments can cause permanent damage to both your teeth and gums if misused. Over-whitening can result in translucent or discolored teeth – the opposite of what you are looking to achieve.
Tooth whitening is best done in the dental office, where we can create a custom tray for your unique bite and closely monitor the process. A custom tray allows us to completely cover your teeth without getting the gel onto your gums. While having a custom tray made will have an upfront cost, it can be reused for life so long as your bite does not change.
5. AT THE DENTIST: VENEERS
If you are unhappy with your smile and want a cosmetic procedure done, your best option is veneers so long as your natural teeth are in good health. If you have crooked, discolored or uneven teeth, veneers are most likely the solution for you. Veneers are a great choice because you don’t have to reconstruct your entire smile – you can makeover only as many teeth as you need to. We want to create a naturally perfect smile, after all.
A veneer is a porcelain shell that is bonded to the front of your natural tooth. When choosing veneers it is important to remember there is such a thing as too white. There are many factors that go into choosing a shade, such as brightness and translucency. If you are looking for a very white smile, maintaining a natural translucency will be key to keep your smile looking natural.
If you are unhappy with your smile and want to make improvements, the team here at Bela Family Dentistry of Wagener would love to help you create the smile of your dreams. Book now and we will get you set up with an appointment that fits your schedule.