We've become a nation obsessed with our teeth, with demand for clear braces going up 89 per cent in the last year, and laser teeth whitening up 116 per cent.
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. Research shows that people who have a gleaming set of gnashers are seen as more intelligent and successful. And good teeth are beneficial for your overall health, too. Studies show a direct link between poor oral hygiene and serious diseases like heart attack, stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis. Eek.
Obviously, we know that brushing, flossing, and not being a stranger to our dentist will help us on the way to the pearly whites of our dreams. But what else can we do?
1. Purchase a Quality Toothbrush
Electric toothbrushes are proven to remove more plaque and achieve healthier gums than standard manual toothbrushes. If you're not ready to shell out for one, buy a soft-bristled manual brush instead. Dentists say that stiffer bristles and aggressive brushing causes gums to recede and can wear enamel away from the teeth.
2. Clean your tongue
Giving your tongue a scrub with your toothbrush removes the white and yellow bacteria that coats it and cause bad breath. It also kills decaying food particles and dead cells from the top area of the tongue. You'll quickly get over the feeling of wanting to gag, we promise.
3. See a dental hygienist
For around £40, they can remove any surface stains manually with the help of a polishing paste and jet wash. They will also tackle those frustrating stains that floss just doesn't work on - all of which will help lighten the overall shade of your teeth.
4. Give Up Smoking
As if you needed another reason, right? Smoking soaks deep into the enamel of your teeth, causing a dingy smile. Smoking also inhibits healthy gums, allowing them to recede and develop large pockets around the teeth. Vom.
5. Use a straw
Minimise the contact that coffee, tea and fizzy drinks have with your teeth by drinking through a straw. The liquid will bypass your teeth, which will help minimise any staining and may also help reduce the risk of tooth decay.
6. Choose the right whitening product
Toothpastes and mouthwashes are good as a preventative whitener for coffee and tea drinkers, while gel pens are best for touching up small areas of teeth that collect more stains. Laser whitening offers the most dramatic results, while custom trays have similarly professional results with a slightly lower price tag.
7. Eat cheese
We already know that the calcium in dairy is essential for strong teeth, but a study last month has found that cheese in particular does the mouth a world of good. During the study, subjects who ate cheese saw a drop in pH levels in their mouths, resulting in saliva that help fight plaque and cavities and protects enamel. Hooray! For an even happier mouth, eat your cheese with raw vegetables and stay away from sugar, crisps and orange juice.
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