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5 Tips for a bright, shiny smile

Aly Walansky is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City. She lives with her two Shorkie-Tzus, Scarlette and Max, and a display of pink polka-dot-themed home decor -- not to mention a selection of flavored vodka. Check out he...

Flash those teeth

If only the aging process were limited to wisdom. We are all too aware it is also accompanied by major changes in our bodies that make us look older. Facial appearance is essential to maintaining a youthful look, and the shape, size, position and color of our teeth all play major roles. Luckily, Dr. Alex Gause, D.D.S. shared some tips with us to address this -- and leave us brighter than ever.

use a rinse

Try to replace your usual mouthwash with a rinse -- ideally one that has an added whitening benefit. Also try to carry a whitening pen with you that can be applied after meals or drinks that may cause staining.

Cool drinks down

A hot cup of coffee is the only way many of us can wake up in the morning. But, be careful -- sipping hot coffee leads to this major stain causing agent to sit on your teeth for a longer period of time than necessary. An alternative is to drink iced coffee or iced tea through a straw. This bypasses those front teeth that you use to present your face to the world while still giving you that jolt of caffeine that you need to start your day or keep you going after lunch!

Monitor your eating habits

We all know that eating candy leads to cavities, but the relationship between diet and dental health is more complicated. The simple act of eating causes an increase in acidity in the oral cavity, which contributes to the breakdown of enamel. The good news is that our body, through saliva, naturally counteracts this. Eating more frequently lengthens the time that our teeth are exposed to an acidic environment, putting them more at risk of decay. The take home message is simple -- frequent snacking can cause higher risk for tooth decay.

Brush before bed

Don't fall to the temptation to just fall asleep -- it can lead to major problems over time. During the night, our mouths produce less of the saliva that is our natural defense against decay and gum disease. Forgetting to brush means plaque and bacteria have a better environment to wreak havoc on our teeth and gums.

No Smoking

In our image conscious society, smoking has recently become as popular as an appetite suppressant. We know it's bad for our health, but it's also horrible for the beauty and health of your teeth and gums. Smoking is one of the worst contributors to surface staining that we are aware of and is a recognized risk factor to the development of periodontal disease, a disease that eats away at your gums and bones supporting your teeth. As an alternative to cigarettes, try controlling your appetite with healthy alternatives such as fruits, nuts and water.

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