Maintain a Healthy, Beautiful Smile | Reader's Digest

Maintain a Healthy, Beautiful Smile

Secrets for pearly whites.

from Stealth Health

6. Use alcohol-free mouthwash to rinse away bacteria. Most over-the-counter mouthwashes have too much alcohol, which can dry out the tissues in your mouth, making them more susceptible to bacteria. Some studies even suggest a link between mouthwashes containing alcohol and an increased risk of oral cancer. To be safe, be a teetotaler when it comes to choosing a mouthwash.

7. Clean your tongue with a tongue scraper every morning to remove tongue plaque and freshen your breath. One major cause of bad breath is the buildup of bacteria on the tongue, which a daily tongue scraping will help banish. Plus, using a tongue scraper is more effective than brushing your tongue with a toothbrush, says Dr. Katz.

8. Even if you’re a grown-up, avoid sugary foods. Sugar plus bacteria equals oral plaque. Plaque, then, leads to bleeding gums, tooth decay, and cavities. Plus, the acid in refined sugars and carbonated beverages dissolves tooth enamel.

9. Instead, eat “detergent” foods. Foods that are firm or crisp help clean teeth as they’re eaten. We already mentioned apples (otherwise known as nature’s toothbrush); other choices include raw carrots, celery, and popcorn. For best results, make “detergent” foods the final food you eat in your meal if you know you won’t be able to brush your teeth right after eating.

10. Gargle with apple cider vinegar in the morning and then brush as usual. The vinegar helps help remove stains, whiten teeth, and kill bacteria in your mouth and gums.

11. Brush your teeth with baking soda once a week to remove stains and whiten your teeth. Use it just as you would toothpaste. You can also use salt as an alternative toothpaste. Just be sure to spit it out so it doesn’t count as sodium intake! Also, if your gums start to feel raw, switch to brushing with salt every other day.

12. Practice flossing with your eyes shut. If you can floss without having to guide your work with a mirror, you can floss in your car, at your desk, while in bed, and before important meetings. In which case, buy several packages of floss and scatter them in your car, your desk, your purse, your briefcase, your nightstand.

13. Keep rubber bottle openers and a small pair of scissors in your purse or desk drawer. That way, you won’t have to use your teeth as tools, which can damage them. In fact, never, ever use your teeth as tools for anything except eating.