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Great hair and flawless skin are always associated with healthy beauty, but a bright, white smile is crucial to maintaining a look that naturally glows. And achieving a whiter smile is not simply a vain pursuit—it’s about committing to overall health and adjusting your lifestyle to reflect that with a radiant smile.
For the best whitening practices and tips on how to safely achieve a brighter smile, we consulted with Dr. Rick Caldwell, president of the Ontario Dental Association.
The truth about a white smile
While we all love to be able to flash our pearly whites—in photos and IRL— a white smile doesn’t always equal perfect health. “While we know some patients are looking for a brighter, whiter smile, having one doesn’t necessarily mean your teeth and gums are healthy,” says Caldwell. Like anything related to total-body wellness, keep up with your healthy habits—at home and with a professional. “A regular dental exam is the best way to maintain your oral health and help combat any potential issues that could impact your oral health and overall health.”
When to whiten—and how
Before investing in teeth-whitening products and professional treatments, be mindful of the culprits that can be slowly causing teeth to dull and yellow—and working against your cause. “Drinks such as red wine, coffee and tea may lead to surface stains on teeth,” says Caldwell. Of course, you could always sip your morning Starbucks latte through a straw for the same deliciously caffeinating benefits without the risk of staining teeth.
But in order to start the whitening process safely and effectively, consult your dentist first to see if you’re a good fit. “It is very important to make sure teeth are healthy before any whitening procedure –no cavities, no exposed root surfaces, no cracks or chips,” advises Caldwell. “All bleaching products migrate towards the nerve of the tooth and can be dangerous if you have a pre-existing issue.”
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Once your smile has been assessed, it’s time to think about what route you’ll take to whiten and brighten it up—at-home products such as whitening strips and toothpastes, or professional procedures (a prescription take-home kit or in-office peroxide application activated by a laser light) under the care of a dentist.
“While there are many whitening options, there is no single method of lightening teeth that gets a permanent result,” says Caldwell. “And not everyone’s teeth will whiten to the same degree. It depends on a number of factors such as the number of teeth involved, the severity of discolouration, the natural colour of your teeth and your diet.”
For your best results, depending on how many shades whiter you would like to go, again, ask your dentist first. “There are many options for teeth whitening,” says Caldwell. “Taking into account your unique oral health conditions, your dentist will be able to determine what, if any, tooth whitener is the right one for you.”
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A healthy white smile—for life
Keeping a more holistic commitment to healthy beauty and living is your best bet to achieving and keeping that Hollywood smile. “Maintaining a healthy diet is key for your oral and overall health,” says Caldwell. As for that healthy smile? Include foods like yogurt, milk, salmon, trout, cantaloupe, strawberries, carrots, spinach in your diet, says Caldwell. “And regular dental exams, brushing twice a day and flossing daily are critical,” he adds.
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