Most of the time, it is life itself that makes your smile beautiful: The kind word, the proud moment, the exhilaration of love or adventure — all add joyful brilliance to any smile.
When a smile fades, the fault often lies with our own lifestyle choices. We may choose to neglect our dental health or smoke, eat foods that stain enamel, or even insist on crunching every stray popcorn kernel in the bowl. Below, experienced York-area dentist Dr. Gordon Bell identifies some of the major causes of tooth damage and discoloration, so that you can avoid things that would prevent you from preserving your winning smile for years to come.
What You Inhale
Smoking hasn’t made anyone smile since the golden age of Hollywood, when smoldering cigarettes were part of every film noir. The habit was always a bad one: It yellows the teeth, causes bad breath and vastly increases your risk of cancer. And the newest fashion of the moment, vaping, isn’t much better. Although vaping does not coat the teeth with tar, it does transmit nicotine, and sometimes dyes that are added to flavored vaping liquids. Regular vaping also damages gum tissue.
What You Drink
Most people know that drinking large amounts of wine, coffee or tea will discolor teeth, but many sodas also have the same effect. Acid in soda damages enamel, and sugary drinks promote decay. Many teas contain healthful antioxidants, and so you may want to weigh the risks to your smile against the benefits of your morning cup of passion fruit.
What You Eat
Some of our favorite foods are bright and colorful. At times that deep pigment is also a natural dye, darkening our teeth. In this category are blueberries, blackberries, beets, pomegranates and even turmeric, which is a key ingredient in many curries.
What You Do
It’s not hard to guess what types of chewing behaviors are bad for your smile. Opening bottles with your teeth, for example. Biting down on hard candy, popcorn kernels and other unyielding foods creates small fractures in teeth, and can ultimately result in major damage. In this same category of negative behaviors are continual snacking throughout the day, which allows bacteria to build up in the mouth, and grinding your teeth. Clenching and grinding can reposition teeth and lead to jaw pain and headaches.
What You Don’t Do
When it comes to maintaining a million-dollar smile, it’s important to be proactive. Your teeth and gums need your full attention to look and feel their best. That means brushing twice a day, using light pressure and proper brush motion. Flossing, too, is essential. It clears away food from places your brush can’t reach, eliminating safe havens for bacteria. Regular dental cleanings are also key to good dental health and a dazzling smile.
To learn more about ways to preserve your smile for a lifetime, schedule your exam and cleaning with Dr. Bell at his York or Hellam office by calling (888) 906-2343 or emailing The Center for Dental Excellence today.