How to Get a Great Smile on the Go
Brushing your teeth every morning and evening is most likely so rote by now, you don’t even think twice about it. However, there’s more to keeping your smile white and bright than brushing twice a day. With a little effort, you can amp up your smile’s wattage without taking much time out of your daily routine. Read on to learn how.
Avoid Foods That Stain Teeth
Coffee, red wine, tea, beets and blueberries are just a few of the foods and beverages that can stain your teeth, making them look yellow or dull. When you can, try to sip darkly-colored beverages through a straw so they don’t come in contact with your teeth.
Brush Teeth After Meals
You don’t have to swear off teeth-staining foods entirely, just know that if you do eat them, you should brush afterward. You have about 20 minutes after eating before stains start to set in, cautions Debra Glassman, DDS, of Glassman Dental Care in New York.
In theory you should brush after breakfast and lunch, says Gilbert Beldengreen, DDS, PC, FAGD, assistant clinical professor of aesthetic dentistry at New York University, who acknowledges that’s not very realistic for most people. While it may not be possible to carry around a full toothbrush and toothpaste with you at all times, there are new products on the market that make brushing on the go easier. Colgate Wisps are mini, single-use toothbrushes that come individually packaged and pre-loaded with toothpaste. Another option is the Go Smile Touch Ups, small ampoules of teeth whitener that help polish your teeth, removing bacteria in the process. Or simply try flossing after a meal, which will go a long way toward removing food from between your teeth, not to mention that floss is easy to slip into your handbag or pocket once you’re finished.
Rinse Teeth With Water
If brushing isn’t possible, an alternative is to swish water around in your mouth and swallow. “This gets the food away from your teeth and dilutes what’s left,” says Dr. Glassman. Dr. Beldengreen agrees: “It should help remove residual food that might stick to your teeth after a meal and help generate the flow of saliva to bathe the surface of teeth and clean them.” He recommends using plain seltzer. “The carbonation not only helps to prevent stains, it can help remove food particles, too.”
Chew Sugarless Gum
“Gum rubs against your teeth to remove food and potential stains and increases the flow of saliva,” says Glassman. Of course you should opt for a sugarless variety to prevent tooth decay.
Be Wary of Toothpicks
A toothpick can be handy for getting stringy foods, such as spinach or some meats, out from between teeth, but be careful about intense picking. The hard wood of the pick combined with an overly aggressive action can irritate gums and harm teeth.
Stay Away From Sticky Candy
Some foods, such as hard candy and gummy candy, can stick in your teeth and may exacerbate tooth decay. “The biting surface of the tooth has grooves where sticky food can get stuck and bacteria act upon them,” explains Beldengreen. “The longer the food is in there, the longer the bacteria have a chance to do damage.”
Choose Snacks Wisely
Instead of reaching for candy when the afternoon munchies hit, try a piece of crunchy fruit or vegetable. An apple or carrot rubs hard against your teeth and acts as a detergent when you bite into it, helping to remove stains, says Glassman.
Keep It Up on the Road
If you have to travel frequently for work, it’s even more important to practice regular dental hygiene, as stress can do a number on gums. Make sure to brush twice a day and floss daily to keep your teeth and gums healthy.