Expert tips for getting the smile you want

You brush your teeth, you floss (most of the time), but you’re still not entirely satisfied with your smile. If that sounds like you, you’re not alone. Countless people are frustrated with how their teeth look, which may seem trivial but it’s an understandable concern. After all, as soon as you open your mouth, your teeth are one of the first things people notice about you. With that in mind, we’ve put together some simple tips that will help get you on the path to a smile you can, well, smile about.

Woman admiring teeth

Smile-savvy advice

SheKnows got the smile scoop from Dr. Catrise Austin, celebrity cosmetic and general dentist, owner of VIP Smiles in New York, and author of 5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile. She took some time out of her busy schedule to share her top tips about how to get your best, brightest, red-carpet-worthy smile.

Take the mirror test

The first thing Austin advises is to take a look in the mirror and assess your current smile. She suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do you like the color of your teeth?
  • Do you like the position of your teeth?
  • Are you happy with the shape of your teeth?
  • Are there any visible cavities?
  • Do you have visible tartar and stains on your teeth?
  • Do your gums appear healthy and pink?
  • Do you have any teeth missing?
  • Do you have unsightly silver fillings?

“These questions and your answers can help guide your dentist in recommending the best treatment for your smile, and design a plan with timelines for having your smile picture-perfect,” the dentist says. Depending on your smile needs, a smile makeover can take a few hours or a few months, so Austin recommends doing the mirror test as soon as possible.

Find the right dentist

Once you’ve determined your smile needs, find the right dentist who can deliver the smile you want. If you don’t have a cosmetic dentist that you’re happy with, find one. Many dentists offer consultations, which allow you to discuss your needs one-on-one. At this time you can ask to see before-and-after photographs of actual patients, find out the pros and cons of recommended treatments, and discuss costs and timelines of completion. Austin does warn that there are tons of cosmetic dentists out there who have not been properly trained, so she suggests that you do your homework or ask for a referral.

At-home whitening

Teeth-whitening is the No.1 requested cosmetic dentistry procedure on the market today, Austin says, adding that whitening is safe for your teeth provided that you use a brand recommended by your dentist. “When combined with a professional teeth cleaning by your dental team, whitening is one of the quickest ways to enhance your smile,” she says. Your dentist can clean and whiten your teeth in just one hour with an advanced whitening formula like Zoom or Opalescence, or you can whiten in the comfort of your own home with at at-home whitening kit. Austin recommends Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips, which can remove up to 13 years of set-in stains in just three to seven days.

Austin also shares her method for making a homemade whitening paste. Take one ripe strawberry, add a tablespoon of baking soda and mash until you have a strawberry paste. Apply paste to your teeth with a toothbrush and let it sit for five minutes, then rinse. Do this for seven to 10 days for a whiter smile without breaking the bank.

Solutions to bigger smile concerns

If you have more advanced smile needs – such as filling large gaps, making teeth appear straighter, hiding missing teeth, masking discolorations – and you’re short on time or money, Austin recommends the Snap on Smile, a custom-made, natural-looking, tooth-colored appliance that slips over your natural teeth to instantly give you the perfect smile at a fraction of the cost of porcelain veneers, which can cost thousands of dollars. Other procedures to talk to your dentist about when dealing with the issues mentioned above include clear removable braces, bonding, bridges or implants.

At-home routine

Studies show that poor oral health can not only cause gum disease, cavities, bad breath and tooth loss, but is also linked to other serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and preterm or low-birthweight babies in pregnant women, explains Austin. Follow this routine at home to keep your gums and teeth healthy.

  1. Brush twice daily with a soft manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste.
  2. Floss twice daily to remove bacteria and food that may be hidden below the gums.
  3. Rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash to remove bacteria and to keep your breath fresh.
  4. Scrape (or brush) your tongue daily to remove plaque from the crevices of the tongue and keep your breath fresh.

Why a great smile is important

A recent study revealed that those with a beautiful smile are perceived as more successful, intelligent, interesting, wealthy, attractive and popular with the opposite sex, which makes sense. One of the first things that people notice about you is your smile. “It’s your greeting card, your business card, your resume and your facial mood-ring all in one,” Austin says. “A strong, confident smile implies much more than personal hygiene; it truly shows accomplishment, happiness, radiance and strength.”

More about oral health

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What your mouth says about your health
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