The guys at Men's Health were kind even to share their tips to sparkling, white teeth. Here's how to get and keep that million-dollar smile.
Brush with the best
You should brush your teeth for at least two minutes, holding the head at a 45-degree angle away from your gums. Go with medium or soft bristles – stiff brushes will scrape your gums raw. Best, though, are the electrics – they clean better, they're gentler on gums, and they make you commit to the entire two minutes. You should ditch your stick every 60 days or when the bristles become bent, whichever comes first.
First-time users of tooth whiteners often experience sensitive teeth, says Richard Price, D.M.D., of the American Dental Association. A study in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry reports that people who brush with potassium nitrate toothpaste for two weeks before starting at-home whitening
are less likely to feel increased sensitivity. Just as important is knowing when to stop your whitening routine – like if your chompers start to turn blue around the edges. 'This signals a breakdown of dentin,' says Jonathan Levine, D.M.D., founder of GoSmile, 'which is the substance beneath the tooth enamel that's being whitened.'
Make your teeth shine
When picking an at-home whitener, use common sense. 'Don't be fooled by false whitening claims,' says Gerard Kugel, M.D., an associate dean of research at the Tufts University school of dental medicine. Simply put: Stronger bleach concentrations work faster. If you want a complete overhaul from a home kit, look for a carbamide peroxide concentration of at least 10%. In a German study, in-office trays whitened teeth six shades in three sessions and the at-home variety required seven uses. Whitening strips required 32 applications. But you can't just suck a strip and forget it. Use a whitening toothpaste to keep the shine from fading, and a whitening floss – the plaque-heavy areas between your teeth soak up colors. Finally, watch the coffee, juice, and wine: They're oral-bling killers.
Banish dragon breath
If brushing and flossing aren't doing the trick, go hunting for tongue gunk. 'Your tongue is like a shag carpet from the 1960s – bacteria are hanging out, clinking champagne glasses,' says Levine, which means they're probably smoking pot, too. The answer: a tongue scraper. Look for one with a rigid edge. Reach as far back as you can, then pull forward, scraping your tongue. Follow with a peroxide mouthwash. Don't overscrape, warns Fuad Malik, D.D.S., a New York City dentist. It can cause 'hairy tongue', which isn't kinky at all.
This article originally appeared in Men's Health
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