A confident radiant smile keeps us looking young and beautiful. It creates a lasting impression when you meet someone and is a way to exude warmth and confidence. So why wouldn't we make taking care of our mouth part of our beauty and self-care routine? Just as we take care of our tired skin on the daily, so should we with our pearly whites. Making a trip to the dentist can literally turn back time in a conservative and noninvasive way.

Your mouth is the focal point of your face.

The health of your mouth and teeth can be a dead giveaway of lack of attention and premature aging. And no matter how much Botox or luxury facials someone's had, as a dentist, I can evaluate your health by the color, shape, size, and bite patterns of your teeth in a second. Dentists are skilled to determine if something is off by the tenth of a millimeter so the subtle nuances created in your unique smile can create dramatic changes in your overall appearance and confidence.

The anatomy of a smile includes two key players: teeth and the face. As teeth stain over time with your morning cup of joe and red wine, you lose the luminosity and resiliency of your teeth.

Habits that affect your oral health.

Habits like grinding and chronic stress erode the outer bright white enamel, exposing the yellow tooth structure underneath and creating sharp edges, chips, and microfractures. When you lose the integrity of your teeth to this type of wear, the shortened appearance also collapses the jaws and the surrounding skin that is normally held taught by the height of the teeth. This exposes wrinkles prematurely and can also be painful and make you vulnerable to cavities due to the exposed tooth structure.

Brighter, healthier teeth will support the muscle tone of the lips and will also maximize your lip color and make it really pop.

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Make dental care part of your self-care

1. Stress relief for grinding

While working with your dentist, there are a few things you can do at home that will make a big difference. Women especially tend to hold a lot of stress in the head and neck region, lending to stress-related bruxism (nighttime grinding). Meditation and facial massage can help relax the muscles around the jaw and keep you from wearing those teeth down and waking up with a sore jaw.

2. Fight stains, naturally.

To keep your teeth looking bright and white, try brushing with baking soda at home once a month—without the peroxide. Peroxide will kill the healthy mouth flora, and baking soda is rather abrasive on your teeth but once in a while will help fight stains. Personally, I always keep a BP-free straw in my wallet for my coffee and dark-colored drinks to prevent stains.

3. Get fancy with your flossing,

"Knot" floss is a little trick to keep the space between your back teeth extra clean. We all know to floss once a day, but pick a flat/glide floss and tie a single knot, run the knot through the back teeth to get the hard-to-reach areas extra clean.

4. Make your own lip scrub.

Every couple weeks, more often in this dry winter weather, mix sugar with honey and some rosewater to apply to the lips and scrub off. It will keep your lips looking soft, and moisture prevents wrinkles around the area, plus honey has natural healing properties. And if you're in a bind, try a deep red lipstick with a blue undertone like a rich berry to give the illusion of your teeth being more white; stay away from the orange undertones.

5. A word on oral probiotics.

Oral probiotics are gaining more and more buzz, but current research shows the gut and oral cavity work differently and while proven effective in gut health, the microbes introduced into the mouth do not stick around very long. The microflora in the mouth is pretty well-established and regulated to begin with, so until there is more research, I don't recommend these supplements.

6. Don't forget to visit the dentist.

Your cosmetic dental work should be like your everyday beauty routine—natural and preventive. Working with a cosmetic dentist can ensure that your mouth continues to look vibrant! Speak with a licensed professional regarding your own history and needs, but here are some general tips to keep that smile looking like you're still in your 20s: Schedule every six months like clockwork, whiten teeth professionally, restore the height of your teeth or maintain them. Every appointment should be custom-tailored to your needs, which requires a very keen eye and attention to detail.By incorporating these tips into your self-care regimen you can be happier and more confident about your smile.

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