10 ways to improve your smile
There are many simple lifestyle tips and natural solutions that can help keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy, and your lips in tip-top condition.
1. Get your smile checked
According to nationalsmilemonth.org around 2% of the UK population have never visited a dentist and 27% of adults only visit their dentist when they have a problem. This adds up to a lot of people who are not having routine health checks on their teeth and gums! It’s recommend that you get your teeth checked every 6 months, or more if needed. This enables your dentist to catch any problems early (making them more treatable) or can even prevent problems occurring altogether – so don’t skip your dentist check up!
2. Brush your teeth twice a day
Yip, just like your mum told you! Seems an obvious question I know, but are you cleaning your teeth in the correct way? It’s recommended that you brush your teeth twice a day but did you know that you should brush them for at least 2 minutes at a time? Are you using the right type of toothbrush?
This is super important because a brush which is too hard can cause bleeding gums and one which is too soft may not be effective enough. Are you brushing too hard? Over-brushing can actually wear down tooth enamel and cause bleeding gums. You may think your brushing technique is fine but actually it could be the cause of your dental problems.
3. The fluoride debate!
Anyone reading the warning on a tube of toothpaste about the dangers of ingesting sodium fluoride might well wonder why it’s there. Well, although it’s been recommend for years as the best defence against tooth decay and despite being in most toothpastes, these days, fluoride is very toxic.
Scary, right? Swallowing even just a small amount of sodium fluoride may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea but even with these dangers, many of the top brands of toothpaste continue to use it. So it’s hard to know if it’s good or bad, especially when it’s being recommended by brands you trust.
4. Mouth friendly foods
Your mouth, like the rest of your body, can be supported from the inside by eating foods that are rich in mouth-friendly nutrients like calcium – it isn’t just for strong bones! It’s important for your teeth as it provides structural support, protects against gum disease and helps keep your jaw bone strong and healthy. A calcium deficiency can lead to a weakened jaw which in turn leads to loosening teeth. Eat foods rich in calcium such as cheese, milk, yoghurt, nuts and leafy greens.
Vitamin D is also very important because it helps your body absorb calcium but often it can be difficult to source from your diet, especially if you’re vegan or vegetarian. You can drink milk and eat egg yolks and fish to increase your vitamin D intake, while plant-based sources might include mushrooms and fortified non-dairy milks and cereals. If you’re looking to increase your intake, you could try our Balance Mineral Drink which not only contains plenty of vitamin D but calcium and zinc too!
Finally, we have to consider vitamin C, another vital nutrient for your teeth. This helps to protect your gums and fight off bacterial infections – too little can lead to bleeding gums and loose teeth. Foods rich in vitamin C include bell peppers, leafy greens, tomatoes, kiwis, melons and berries. You could also try crunchy foods such as carrots, apples and celery which can help clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath. Their high water content dilutes the effects of the sugars they contain, and stimulates the flow of saliva, which helps to wash away food particles, acid and sugar.
5. An apple a day keeps the dentist away
Decades ago, when both toothpaste and mouth spray were unknown, it was customary to eat an apple before going to bed. It was probably the best and cheapest means of mouth hygiene, because the malic acid cleaned the teeth excellently and was beneficial to the mouth flora.
Although eating an apple can help cleanse and brighten teeth, it can in no way replace brushing teeth with a toothbrush. It’s also important to remember to rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth after eating an apple to remove the sugar and acid left behind.
6. Some extra care
Using a mouthwash and flossing regularly can also support good oral health if accompanied by regular brushing, regular visits to the dentist and by not neglecting problems such as bleeding gums or sore teeth.
Dentaforce mouthwash is a natural alternative to standard mouthwashes for good oral hygiene. It contains a refreshing mix of several herbal extracts including peppermint, sage, and cloves. For a clean, refreshing feeling put 3 drops into a glass of water and swish around the mouth for one minute.
7. Strawberries can brighten your smile
Ditch those expensive and often toxic whitening kits and opt for something a little more natural. Strawberries are not only delicious little treats packed with lots of nutrients to help keep us healthy, they have also been used for centuries to treat discoloured teeth.
Strawberries are a great natural whitener because of their mildly acidic nature. To brighten teeth all you need to do is mash up a ripe strawberry and apply directly to teeth with your fingers or by dipping your toothbrush in it. Rinse your mouth thoroughly afterwards, using warm water with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda. This is important as it will reduce acidity in the mouth.
8. Freshen up your breath
There are so many things that can cause bad breath throughout the day so try Dentaforce Mouthspray whenever that refreshing feeling is needed to cleanse, soothe and freshen your mouth. Eating fennel seeds between meals is also a good tip as they act as an instant, natural breath freshener.
When brushing your teeth, make sure you brush your tongue too. This will remove smelly bacteria that cause bad breath. Most odour-causing bacteria love a dry mouth, so keep your mouth hydrated to battle bad breath. Drinking water helps to flush out food particles and bacteria stuck in your mouth and also the production of saliva, which acts as a cleansing agent.
9. Say no to sugary drinks & foods
These are your teeth’s worst nightmare as the sugar can stick to them and stay there for longer, providing the perfect conditions for the build-up of bacteria and plaque. Sugary drinks also contain phosphorous and carbonation, which can wear away the enamel on your teeth, causing them to become stained and discoloured.
If you can’t give them up, then try to limit sugary drinks and foods. For these drinks, use a straw and position it towards the back of your mouth to limit the amount of time the drink is in contact with your teeth.
10. Take care of your lips
Chapped, cracked, cold sore prone lips can also affect your smile. Just like during the winter, the weather during the warmer months can also affect the condition of your lips. They can become dry and chapped due to the summer sun, which can affect the way they look and feel. It’s important to protect them from harmful IV rays by choosing a lip balm that has an SPF of at least 15.
Not just a winter problem, exposure to heat and the sun can also trigger cold sores. If that tingle occurs, use Bio-Propolis ointment to help fight your cold sores – even if they have already erupted.
Some fun smile facts from nationalsmilemonth.org that will make you smile even more:
- It takes 43 muscles to frown but only 17 to smile (so it’s much easier to smile more!)
- On a night out, 80% of us would be more likely to talk to somebody we didn’t know if they smiled at us (so get smiling if you want to meet new people)
- A ‘smile’ comes top of the things we first notice when meeting a new person (remember first impressions are hard to change)
- The colour yellow makes us smile the most, whereas purple makes us smile the least (no wonder we are so happy when the sun is out)
- Chocolate comes top of the foods that make us smile the most, followed then by Sunday roast, a curry and a fry-up
- When seeking a new partner, a smile is top of the most sought after physical attributes, beating body shape, dress sense and eyes.
How do you take care of your smile?
(Originally published 29/05/15, updated 11/01/2019)