Summer has finally arrived, which means that “selfie season” is now under way, from a beach vacation to your college roommate’s wedding. But if your smile seems more lackluster than pearly white these days, you might be feeling self-conscious about the seemingly endless stream of photo ops.
But don't spend your summer agonizing over finding a flattering Instagram filter or––worse––dodging cameras altogether. Instead, brighten your smile with these natural, gentle solutions that combine homeopathic remedies, dentist-approved expertise, and nutritious eating habits:
1. Cut back on coffee and red wine.
Deep-pigmented beverages, like these infamous “tooth tarnishers,” get caught in the microscopic hollows on your enamel surface, leaving behind unsightly residue. Over time, frequent coffee and red wine consumption will turn those pearly whites into a dull yellow. So abstain from dark-colored liquids––or limit them to the weekend if total avoidance is unrealistic.
2. Gargle apple cider vinegar.
Derived from fermented apples, this often touted “superfood” contains purifying enzymes, pectins, and minerals that naturally enhance your mouth’s pH balance. The acidic properties also eliminate that yellow tinge.
Dilute ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar with 1 cup water, then gargle with the solution each morning as part of your standard beauty ritual.
3. Apply a turmeric paste.
Don’t be deterred by its questionable orange color, this spice is an integral component of holistic medicine. In fact, turmeric’s active ingredient––curcumin––yields antiseptic benefits that erase plaque buildup, revealing those pearly whites underneath.
Just scrub your teeth with a turmeric–water mixture for about five minutes, then rinse thoroughly and follow up with regular toothpaste afterward.
4. Munch on raw veggies.
The crunchy texture of raw plant-based nibbles like fruit, vegetables, and nuts creates an abrasive effect that helps cleanse surface stains while triggering enhanced saliva production to dislodge any residual food particles. In addition, the natural acids, astringents, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients will generate a sterile mouth environment where bacteria are unlikely to thrive.
5. Curb that sweet tooth.
If you just can’t resist that glazed doughnut or leftover cupcake in the office break room, you’re risking more health hazards than potential weight gain. The refined-sugar content in these “guilty pleasures” will adhere to your teeth, stimulating progressive bacteria growth. Eventually, this bacteria converts into plaque which causes enamel discoloration, decay, and even cavities.
6. Replace your toothbrush.
After about three months of continued use, most toothbrush bristles will become frayed and ineffectual. That's why the American Dental Association advises swapping out your toothbrush for a newer model once you notice signs of wear-and-tear. This ensures thorough stain removal on the surface, plus deep cleaning tartar control in those difficult-to-reach crevices between each tooth.
Of course, all these tips should be practiced on top of regular visits to your dentist (many are incorporating more natural practices these days) and good dental habits, like brushing and flossing twice a day.