Go On a White-Teeth Diet
What goes in, shows up on your teeth. So 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.
So step one: Brush your teeth immediately after eating or drinking foods that stain teeth. Step two: Regularly use a good bleaching agent, either over-the-counter or in the dentist’s office. Step three: Be conscious of the foods and drink in your diet that can stain your teeth, and eat them only when a toothbrush is around. If there isn’t one, eat an apple for dessert—it will provide some teeth-cleaning action.
Hum While You Brush
The ideal amount of time to brush in order to get all the bacteria-packed plaque out is at least two minutes, British researchers found. Hum “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to accompany your brushing (this song lasts exactly two minutes). Or, keep a timer in the bathroom and set it for two minutes.
Grip Your Toothbrush Like a Pencil
Does your toothbrush look like it just cleaned an SUV? If so, you’re probably brushing too hard. Contrary to what some scrub-happy people think, brushing with force is not the best way to remove plaque. 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.
Drink a Cup of Tea a Day
Flavonoids and other tea ingredients seem to prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to teeth, and also block production of a type of sugar that contributes to cavities. Tea also contains high amounts of fluoride.
Use Alcohol-Free Mouthwash to Rinse Away Bacteria
Most over-the-counter mouthwashes have too much alcohol, which can dry out the tissues in your mouth, making them more susceptible to bacteria. Some studies even suggest a link between mouthwashes containing alcohol and an increased risk of oral cancer. To be safe, be a teetotaler when it comes to choosing a mouthwash.
Get In Some Tongue Action
Clean your tongue with 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. Plus, using a tongue scraper is more effective than brushing your tongue with a toothbrush, says Dr. Katz.
Put Some Arm and Hammer into it
Brush your teeth with baking soda once a week to remove stains and whiten your teeth. Use it just as you would toothpaste. You can also use salt as an alternative toothpaste. Just be sure to spit it out so it doesn’t count as sodium intake! Also, if your gums start to feel raw, switch to brushing with salt every other day.
Use Tools, Not Teeth
Keep rubber bottle openers and a small pair of scissors in your purse or desk drawer. That way, you won’t have to use your teeth as tools, which can damage them. In fact, never, ever use your teeth as tools for anything except eating.
Water Your Mouth
Drink a glass of water for every hour that you’re at work. That way, when you get home, you’ll have finished your recommended daily dosage. If you work at home or part-time, make sure that you drink at least one eight-ounce glass every hour for eight hours. Not only does water help keep your digestive system healthy, control weight, and hydrate your skin, but it also helps keep your teeth even more pearly white. The more water you drink, the more bacteria you flush off your teeth and out of your mouth, which means less risk of gum disease, fewer cavities, and fresher breath.
Chew Big Red Gum
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that the cinnamon-flavored chewing gum reduces bacteria in the mouth. The reason? The gum contains cinnamic aldehyde, a plant essential oil used for flavoring that inhibits the growth of cavity causing bacteria.