Whether it’s because of untreated cavities, staining, or crookedness, more than half of American adults feel insecure about their teeth. Our smile is usually the first thing other people notice about us, and if yours is less than perfect it can wear at your self-esteem, making you feel less attractive and confident. But with so many advances in modern dentistry, you can take steps to improve your teeth. Here’s how to get a better smile.

See Your Dentist Regularly

Your first step towards having a beautiful smile is to see your dentist every six months for an oral exam and cleaning. Dental professionals can detect and treat any oral health problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. Your dentist will also access any current dental work such as filling and crowns to make sure they’re still doing their job.

Seeing a dentist every six months ensures that any dental problems are detected while they’re still small and more affordable to treat. Putting off dental check-ups can lead to more extensive dental work in the future, not to mention pain. Your dental check-up will also reveal if you’re doing a good job with your at-home oral hygiene.

Once your smile has been restored with any needed dental procedures, your dentist can make recommendations for esthetic dentistry that may include getting dental veneers or implants to improve your teeth’s appearance. They can also advise you on the best options for whitening or straightening your teeth.

Brush and Floss Your Teeth Daily

You should brush your teeth at least twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste and soft-bristled toothbrush. You want to brush following a meal, unless you’ve eaten an acidic food such as citrus fruits or juice. Wait a half hour to brush so the acid won’t damage your teeth.

Brush for at least two minutes and clean all surfaces of your teeth including the back sides and chewing surfaces. Brush gently and angle the brush at 45 degrees to help sweep away plaque from just under the gum line.

You may want to opt for an electric toothbrush to make the task a little easier and to ensure your teeth get really clean. Electric toothbrushes do all of the work for you; you just move them from section to another in your mouth after so many seconds.

Flossing is vital as it will remove food particles that toothbrushes miss. Floss at least once a day, preferably at bedtime before you brush.

Eat a Healthy Diet

The old saying “you are what you eat” is definitely true when it comes to your teeth’s health and appearance. Limit your intake of sugary and sticky foods such as candy, soda, dried fruit, crackers, chips, and baked goods. If you can’t brush immediately following a meal or snack, drink plain water or chew on sugarless gum to help neutralize acids in your mouth that contribute to cavities.

Eat a healthy balanced diet that includes lean protein, dairy products, and fruits and vegetables. Foods high in calcium such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and kale contribute to strong teeth. A diet that has a good mix of several vitamins and minerals will help keep both teeth and gums healthy.

Crunchy foods such as celery, apples, and carrots make good snacks because they help scrub plaque away from teeth in between brushing. Cheese is also a great option because in addition to its high calcium content it also brings down acid levels in the mouth.

Avoid Biting Anything Hard

Biting down on hard foods such as ice cubes or candy or using your teeth as a tool can cause chips and cracks in teeth, leading to major damage. While your teeth are strong, they are not designed to be used to break up hard objects. Take care when eating popcorn, nuts, and other hard foods.

Get Your Teeth Straightened

Misaligned teeth can not only make you self conscious about smiling, but they can also contribute to several oral health issues. Crooked teeth are more difficult to clean, making you more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease. They can also make it hard to chew food properly which can lead to digestive issues.

Teeth that are out of place can make speech difficult as well. Fortunately, there are many orthodontic solutions to straightening teeth, from traditional metal braces to do-it-yourself alignment such as Invisalign. Your dentist can refer you to an orthodontist who can make recommendations for your best teeth straightening options.

Replace Missing Teeth

Nothing can ruin a smile like having a gap where a tooth used to be. A missing tooth can cause surrounding teeth to shift and lean over, making chewing difficult. It may even lead to the need to have more teeth extracted in time.

Dental implants are a wonderful solution for missing teeth, as they feel and look natural. You may also be a candidate for a bridge or other tooth replacement solution.

Have Your Teeth Whitened

Certain foods and beverages such as coffee, wine, and blueberries can stain teeth over time, making them look dull and yellow. Teeth also tend to yellow naturally with age, as more of the dentin becomes visible.

Whitening your teeth can take years off their appearance and boost your self-esteem. There are many methods for whitening your teeth, from at-home strips to in-office dental technology that does the job much faster. Veneers can also make your teeth look brighter.

Your dentist will tell you which whitening options will work best for you and your level of staining.

Now You Know How to Get a Better Smile

A great smile doesn’t have to be a dream. It takes a combination of professional dental care and healthy at-home habits to fix and maintain a beautiful smile.

Now that you know how to get a better smile, could yours use some help? Our friendly, caring staff will make you comfortable and discuss options for improving your teeth. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

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