Looking for your perfect smile? Don't get too hung up on a gap tooth or a thin lip. The truth is, no one look's better than any other. Practice to find a smile you like, so you have the confidence to show it off to the world. Tooth-whitening treatments are available but don't fall into the trap of damaging your oral health with excessive treatment. In the long run, healthy teeth will lead to the best smile.
Perfecting Your Smile
1. Boost your confidence. The perfect smile doesn't need Hollywood teeth or a certain shape of lips. Smile to make another feel happy, open, and comfortable. People will care more about the reason behind your smile than its appearance. The advice below will help you adjust how your smile looks, but that's the icing on the cake.
2. Find a mirror and relax. Look in the mirror and relax your facial muscles and shoulders. If you're tense, gently rub your cheeks and forehead. Clench and relax your jaw a couple of times.
3. Think of something happy. A genuine smile is the best smile. Think of a fun memory or recent event, your friends, or your crush. Even an embarrassing story from your childhood can make you smile.
4. Adjust your eyes. One of the key differences between a real smile and a fake one is a change in the muscles around your eyes. Any of these can work:
- Try crinkling your eyes or squinting a little. This might already happen if you have a wide smile.
- Try widening your eyes a little, and raising your eyebrows.
- Even a small tilt of your head can make a smile look better.
- Try putting your tongue behind your upper front teeth. This makes your bottom lip look fuller and gaps in your teeth less noticeable. This is typically a feminine look but anyone can give it a try.
6. Make a friendly smile. This is a subtle, small smile you'd use at a social gathering, to catch someone's attention. Press your lips together and pull them wide. Hold the smile for just a second, long enough for the other person to notice. Here are a few variations on this:
- Curve your lips by keeping the center steady as the outer corners move up.
- Try the curve again, but keep stretching the corners until you flash a moment of teeth.
- Smirk by raising one side of your mouth higher than the other and arching a brow. This can come across as saucy or sarcastic, so be cautious.
7. Show off a giant smile. Open your mouth so your teeth aren't touching, and give a giant, wide smile. Raise your eyebrows as you do this. This smile says "I'm having a great time!"
Caring for Your Mouth
1. Floss every day. Floss once or twice a day, just before you brush your teeth. This removes plaque from between your teeth, preventing a build-up of yellow or off-white plaque.
- If you have braces, ask your orthodontist for "threaders: you can use to floss in between the wires.
2. Brush your teeth twice daily. For clean, healthy teeth, brush twice a day for at least two or three minutes. Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride for the best results. Brush gently, especially around the gum line. Rough brushing won't make your teeth cleaner, and may even damage your gums.
- Whitening toothpaste is abrasive, so long-term use may damage your teeth enamel. Consider using one every other day, or only until obvious surface stains are removed.
3. Try home whitening treatments. If a simple flossing and brushing regimen isn't enough to whiten your teeth, you may want to try a whitening treatment. These home remedies are a good first step since they are much cheaper than drugstore options.
- Add a small amount of baking soda to your toothpaste and brush for two minutes. Do this only once a week, since overuse can damage your teeth.
- Swish a small spoonful of coconut oil in your mouth for a few minutes, then spit it into the trash. Dentists are divided on whether this "oil pulling" works, but it shouldn't cause any harm and has plenty of fans.
- Do not use home remedies involving strawberries, vinegar, or other acidic foods. While these can remove some stains, they can rapidly eat into your tooth enamel.
4. Be careful with professional whitening treatments. All of the following can be very painful for people with cavities or sensitive gums, or anyone who overuses them. That said, they can be very effective at hiding stains on teeth. Here are a few options:
- Dental whitening strips: Available at drugstores, these can help with surface and deeper stains but may have limited effect on darker stains. They may cause temporary tooth sensitivity.
- Dental whitening trays: These use a more powerful whitening gel than the strips. For best results, ask your dentist for a tray custom-fit to your teeth.
- Dental whitening procedure: Your dentist can provide ultra-strong whitening, and protect your gums while she does so. This is usually not paid for by insurance.
5. Reduce exposure to staining substances. Coffee, black tea, and wine can all stain your teeth. Try drinking these through a straw or reducing the amount you take. Smoking can also stain your teeth, so consider quitting the habit of switching to an e-cigarette or vaporizer. These don't cause staining due to a lack of smoke, but their long term effects are unknown.
6. Keep your lips smooth. Don't forget that your smile features your lips as well. Take care of your lips using these techniques:
- Exfoliate your lips with a lip scrub or toothbrush. If your lips are severely cracked, do this only after a shower.
- Apply lip balm after exfoliating, or whenever your lips feel dry. Use a lip balm with sun protection before going outside in the morning or afternoon.
- Stay hydrated with water. If your lips feel dry, drink water and dry them with a cloth. Avoid licking them.
7. Consider having dental work done. In most cases, the shape of your teeth is not an obstacle to a great smile. Crooked teeth or gaps in your teeth can even look adorable. If you can't stand your teeth, however, your dentist or orthodontist has many tools to reshape them.
- If you do get braces, a retainer, or other treatment, ask your orthodontist how to keep them clean. A dirty retainer can sabotage your smile and breath.
- If you want a radical change, ask about dental veneers, implants, bridges, or dentures. These add false teeth or the appearance of teeth to your mouth to completely change your smile.