Hands up who knew how much the way our teeth look really impacts what other people think of you?
A study carried out by Kelton in America paints a harsh picture. Your teeth are one of the first things someone will notice when you first meet, with nearly one third of people surveyed saying that teeth are the first thing that they noticed about someone and 24 per cent say it’s the main thing they remember about someone.
Not surprising, then, that around 57 per cent of people value good teeth over good skin which goes some way to explaining why more and more people in the UK are committing to a transformative smile makeover. 'People are looking for more confidence, they want to feel younger,' explains Dr Uchenna Okoye, Clinical Director of London Smiling Dental Group, 'and, while my guests might not use those exact words, it’s clear that they want to be able to smile without feeling self-conscious.'
Count yourself within that camp? Here’s what you can do:
Think of perfect teeth and chances are the Hollywood smile comes to mind. But the reality is – at least in the UK – when it comes to our own teeth we don’t necessarily want something so flawless. Essentially we want a set of teeth that we can pass off as our own but just happen to look great. This means embracing the odd flaw and avoiding blinding bright whiteness. Okoye tells us, 'While some people in the media still want a whiter than white smile the majority of us want something natural, vibrant and healthy. This means that, ideally, the white of your teeth should be no whiter than the whites of your eyes. Using the whites of your eyes as a guide will give you a natural looking white smile.'
So what should you look for in a whitening treatment? 'The most important thing to bear in mind is that your treatment is being carried out by an experienced dentist. You need to be assessed; they need to understand what’s causing the change in colour. For example, some people have tooth decay without even knowing it,' Okoye tells us.
Shop-bought kits are, according to Okoye, not worth the money, 'In the UK we can’t sell anything with more than 1 per cent peroxide so they really don’t work. They’ll just damage your enamel and make your teeth sensitive.'
However, the right toothpaste can help prevent unsightly stains, 'Just like the correct skin care products are vital after a facial, so too are the products that you use on your teeth after you have had them professionally whitened. I recommend and use the Oral-B 3 D White Lux Glamorous Shine, £3.49, which uses technology that prevents new stains from forming. If you haven’t whitened, think of them as stain removers, which can lighten your teeth by one or two shades.' Want to know more? Here are 10 quick-fix tips for a whiter, brighter smile.
Kelton’s study also found that most people associate straight teeth with success. After looking at images of teeth those surveyed believed that you’re 45 per cent more likely to get a job if you have straight teeth than if your teeth are crooked. And your love life doesn’t get off Scott-free either; those with straight teeth are seen as 57 per cent more likely than those with crooked teeth to get a date based on their online dating profile picture. Harsh.
Luckily if you’re an adult and you want to straighten your teeth you don’t have to go down the route of visible train tracks. Okoye tells us, 'Today there are so many different braces depending on what your needs are such as Invisalign, which are braces that can be taken out, and Incognito which are fitted to the back of your teeth and can barely be noticed. The Inman Aligner is another way of straightening teeth using nickel titanium technology to very gently, but efficiently, move teeth. It takes considerably less time than other types of orthodontic appliances – sometimes as little as four weeks!'
These new and discreet options are, naturally, becoming more popular. 'More people are requesting braces than ever. The invisible options are encouraging people who were put-off to take the leap and invest in their smile.'
Ever been on a first date and found yourself enjoying a flirt only to be knocked sideways by your dates stale breath? A passion killer if there ever was one.
A study carried out by CB12 (the bad breath mouth wash) found that 75 per cent of us find bad breath a massive turn-off (we’re surprised it’s only 75 per cent!). 'The most common cause of bad breath is what you eat,' explains Okoye (garlic anyone?). 'That’s closely followed by plaque bacteria which release smelly sulphur gases.'
Okoye advises working with your dentist and hygienist (if you don’t have a hygienist you need one) on remedying it. She also tells us that something as simple as not drinking enough water can result in a whiff as water prompts your mouth to produce enough saliva to neutralise the effects of bacteria.
Lastly, if you smoke, stop! Trust us, you’ll be doing yourself a favour. 'It’s easier said than done but cutting out cigarettes will really help as will making sure your cleaning is up to scratch,' she explains.
Make an electric toothbrush a priority purchase. 'I really feel that an electric toothbrush is mandatory. It makes a difference. Try to floss daily, or at least every other day, and make sure you go for regular check ups so you can spot any gum disease or tooth decay early,' Okoye concludes.
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