Monday, August 20, 2012

4 tips for a megawatt smile

Could white teeth be your lucky charm? It sure seems possible!

According to a study commissioned by Proctor & Gamble, those with dazzling ivories are more likely to get hired and score repeat dates.

They are also viewed as more confident, professional and outgoing. Here's what you need to do to get that winning smile.

1. Avoid coloured foods 

It's not just wine, tea and coffee that you have to watch out for, says Dr Lin Gengfeng, dental surgeon at T32 Dental Centre.

They may be major culprits, but any food or drink that would taint a white sheet of cloth (read: curries, fruits and vegetables) could stain teeth, he warns.


It's impractical to abstain from all coloured foods and drinks, so rinse your mouth with water soon after meals.

Also avoid acidic drinks like soda or sports drinks, which erode tooth surfaces, making them rough and prone to staining.

Those sips could also eventually dissolve the outer enamel and expose darker underlying dentine, says Shape advisory board panellist, Dr Christina Sim.

2. Don't grow a garden 

Dental plaque, a film formed on tooth surfaces by oral bacteria, can make teeth look yellow.

Some of these bacteria are chromogenic, which means they carry pigments, explains Dr Sim. Now you know why some teeth are tinged green and/or orange.


Do what you've always been told: Practise good oral hygiene - brush and floss at least twice daily.

3. Watch what's in your mouthwash 

Good on you for going the whole hog and using an oral rinse.

However, be careful about the type you buy, says Dr Lin. "Some can stain teeth if used on a daily basis."


Read your labels. Avoid mouthwash that contain chlorhexidine or cetylpyridium chloride, says Dr Sim.

They're great at killing bacteria, but have the side effect of staining teeth.

This discolouration occurs mainly on the surface and can be removed by scaling and polishing, so doesn't miss your biannual dental visits.

4. Don't DIY 

In general, home remedies tend to do more harm than good. Lemon juice, which is very acidic, can corrode teeth and thin the enamel, exposing the inner dentine layer and causing tooth sensitivity, says Dr Sim.

Another popular DIY fix is rubbing baking soda on teeth. Although the powder is easily available, affordable, and "mildly effective", it tends to be abrasive as well, says Dr Lin.


If you like taking matters into your own hands, get a take-home whitening kit from the dentist's.

He/she will customise two "whitening trays" that fit over your teeth. Fill them with brightening gel and put them on at your own convenience.

Various concentration levels of whitening chemicals (from 10 - 35 per cent) are available. Generally, the higher the figure, the greater the efficacy, says Dr Lin.

T32 Dental Centre offers Opalescence whitening gel (from $150).


Opt for in-clinic whitening - the results are instant. A layer of medicated whitening gel is applied on teeth first, then activated with a blue laser, says Dr Lin.

A session at his clinic typically starts from $1,200, and patients may need several treatments, depending on the severity of discolouration.

Tooth sensitivity is a common after-effect. Also, it may not be suitable for everyone, says Dr Sim.

Those with discolouration due to dental decay will need to have their teeth cleaned and restored instead.

10 foods that naturally clean teeth

1. Tea: Green tea contains polyphenol antioxidant plant compounds. What this compound does is it helps reduce plaque, hence cavities and gum disease.

Tea may also hep reduce bad breath, and did you know tea contains fluoride? Instead of using regular mouthwash, why not try using green tea to rinse your mouth.

2. Apples: Any food that is crunchy and requires a significant amount of brushing helps clean your teeth naturally.

The crunching motion combined with the fibres helps to dislodge food particles that can build up into plaque. In addition, chewing helps produce saliva, which balances out the PH of the mouth and combats acidity, which can damage tooth enamel.

3. Vegetables: Besides crunchy fruits, another great source of nature's 'cleaning agents' are vegetables such as carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumbers.

Not only does the increased chewing help clean gums, they also contain loads of essential compounds for healthy teeth. Vitamin A for building enamel is found in carrots, sweet potatoes and broccoli, while onions contain antibacterial sulfur compounds.

4. Herbs: If you suffer from bad breath, why not try natural means to freshen your breath?

Chewing on herbs like parsley, cilantro, and mint can help in decreasing bad breath caused by a buildup of bacteria. Note that it's best to use fresh herbs rather than dried ones though. 

5. Strawberries: Did you know strawberries act as a natural tooth bleaching agent? They are commonly used in European countries for removing stains on teeth.

However, NEVER rub strawberries on your teeth and not rinse your mouth afterwards. The acidity of the berry can damage the tooth enamel.

6. Cheese: Cheese, particularly cheddar cheese, is good for combating acids in foods. Cheese stimulates saliva production, cleaning the mouth.

In addition, its fat contain and proteins act to protect your teeth from the acid build up in the mouth. To top that, cheese also is rich calcium and phosphorus, which helps protect the enamel and prevent plaque.

7. Seeds: Naturally high in fibre and crunchy, they make a good substance to clean your teeth with.

But sesame seed in particular said to be good for sloughing off food build up. Not only are they good for reducing plaque, they help build tooth enamel and are very high in calcium.

8. Water: Drinking water keeps your body, and your gums hydrated.

It also helps in washing away food particles and germs, along with restoring the PH of your mouth and preventing acidity build up.

9. Dairy products: Milk and yogurt are good liquids for teeth as they are low in acidity.

This means they wear out the teeth less and reduce the acidity of the mouth. They are also low in tooth decaying sugar, and rich in calcium.

10. Olive oil: Swishing the oil in your mouth also is known in Ayurvedic (Indian culture) medicine.

It is believed that extra virgin olive oil has anti-microbial properties (if not heated and refined), which does wonders in getting rid of a lot of bacteria on the teeth and gums. 


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