No two smiles are alike: Every individual person has something unique about their teeth, whether it’s how they fit together, how white they are, or how many crackers they can chow down on in a minute. But how much do you really know about your smile and the components that make it yours? We asked Steve Gorman, a cosmetic dentist based in North Oaks, Minnesota, to fill us in on the little things you may not know about your grin:
It’s More Than Just Teeth
Whiteness, straightness, and symmetry of teeth are all factors in the attractiveness of a smile, but lips and gums come into play, as well. Having healthy lips and gums (light pink in color and not swollen) are also important, says Gorman. Make sure you’re practicing good oral hygiene for beautiful gums and teeth. As far as lips go: Investing in a high-quality lip pencil, like Charlotte Tilbury’s Lip Cheat ($22, charlottetillbury.com), and penciling in your lips to make them look as symmetrical as possible can be the perfect finishing touch to a great smile.
Your Teeth and Your Nails Have Something In Common
“Your tooth attaches to the gum the same way your nail attaches to your finger,” says Gorman. You know how if you peel back the cuticle around your nail, the nail keeps going underneath? Same thing goes for your teeth and gums. Gorman says that’s why flossing up underneath the gum line—the cuticle of the tooth, if you will—is essential for squeaky-clean teeth and healthy gums.
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Your Gums Should NEVER Bleed When Flossing or Brushing
If you have a spot on your gums that bleeds when you floss or brush your teeth, this is your mouth sending you a great big S.O.S. “If you bleed when you’re brushing or flossing, you have a low-grade infection,” says Gorman. “You should never bleed.” While you may think it’s best to leave that area alone to heal, Gorman says that’s the exact opposite of what you should do. Instead, gently clean it consistently several times a day over several days in a row, both by flossing and brushing. The tissue will become strong and healthy when you’re dedicated to keeping it as clean as possible. (And if the bleeding still persists after a few days, you shouldn’t hesitate to see a dentist to make sure it’s not a more serious problem.)
It Only Takes Minutes for Your Teeth to Become Covered in Bacteria After Brushing
While that nice, clean feeling can last for a couple of hours after brushing, your teeth aren’t exactly staying fresh. “You have bacteria in your mouth all the time, so when you clean your teeth, it’s literally a matter of minutes before you start getting bacteria on them again,” says Gorman—although it takes a few hours for the bacteria to colonize to the point where you can feel the buildup on your teeth.
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There’s a Limit to How White Your Teeth Can Be
Your teeth have a predetermined limit to how white they will go with bleaching, says Gorman. Why? “What whitening does is it bleaches that stuff back to some earlier time,” he says.
eeth Aren’t Supposed to be Smooth
Super-smooth teeth are a dead giveaway of caps or veneers, says Gorman. “There are bumps and grooves and surface texture, and it should be that way,” he says. If you want to improve your smile through cosmetic dentistry, don’t look for someone who will make your teeth look like polished porcelain. Instead, work with a dentist that will reflect the natural texture of teeth to make them look like they belong in your mouth, not in a pack of Tic-Tacs.
There Are Supplements Made For Your Smile
Not only can you take supplements made especially for your hair, but you can also take pills made just for your smile. “There are now specific vitamins that have been developed to help with gum and bone health,” says Gorman. These particular supplements are rich in antioxidants, which boost the immune system to strengthen your mouth’s overall health. Of course, you could also just load up on antioxidant-rich foods like berries for similar results.
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