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Seven steps to a million-dollar smile

Brushing right is not enough to keep your pearlies sparkling white. HT Style offers some dental dos and don?ts for a perfect smile.

india Updated: Feb 03, 2006 13:51 IST
HT Style
HT Style
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1 Avoid fizzy drinks: Carbonated drinks (including the diet variety and sparkling water) can cause your teeth to look older than they really are. “These drinks are so acidic that they can dissolve the upper layers of the tooth,” warns cosmetic dentist Dr Oliver Harman.

They contain high amounts of phosphorus that can leach calcium from your bones. Scientists believe they can weaken your jawbone, increasing the chance of losing teeth. Some researchers believe calcium is first robbed not from your hips or spine but from your jaw, leading to tooth loss. Many young people who have the jaws of much older people, because of poor dietary habits such as drinking soda, along with not getting enough calcium.

2 Quit smoking: Smoking causes staining of the teeth and bad breath, and increases the risk of oral cancer and gum disease. In fact, some gum specialists feel it’s not worth providing advanced treatment for gum disease in smokers as there is very little chance of improvement. Smoking one pack a day for 10 years can cause a 10% loss of bone support.

3 Don’t take drugs: Ecstasy causes jaw-clenching in users. A study found that 60 per cent of ecstasy users had worn their teeth through the enamel and into the underlying dentine, compared with only 11 per cent of non-users. As for cocaine rubbed on gums, it restricts blood flow, traumatises the tissue and inhibits nutrition of the gums. “Remember, gums keep teeth in place,” he says.

4 Chew your food: Foods that work on the teeth like detergents are foods that require chewing. Apples, celery and carrots clean teeth naturally and foods such as spinach, let- tuce and broccoli prevent staining by creating a film on the teeth that acts like a barrier. Stainers take their toll on your smile, so steer clear of tea, cof- fee, red wine, curries, cherries and blueberries - anything, that will stain a white shirt.

5 Just relax: According to the British Dental Health Foundation, tooth grinding or bruxism affects around 10 per cent of people. It is caused by stress and anxiety, and over a period of time can result in tooth damage and receding gums. To make matters worse, grinding usually occurs at night, with many unaware about it. If you have a partner, ask them to listen for grinding sounds while you sleep. The British Dental Association advises trying relaxation techniques before you hit the pillow.

Those suffering from pro- longed tooth grinding, can opt for special mouthguard to wear while you sleep.

6 Beware of bleaching: “A professionally applied whitening system will not damage teeth,” says Dr David Bloom, a member of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. “But some over-the-counter bleaches are acidic, so can cause surface loss and sensitivity.”

7 Stop biting your nails: Habitual nail chewers damage more than their cuticles; they can damage their teeth, too. “If you have weakened enamel, you end up with an exposed, dented, soft area in the centre of the tooth.” The denting is much softer than the enamel and it will wear down.

First Published: Feb 03, 2006 13:51 IST