How to Have a Great Smile

Three Parts:Caring for Your TeethCaring for Your LipsSmiling for the Camera

The quality of your smile can affect your work life, social life, and romantic life. Research shows that people who smile more often are regarded by others as more positive and competent, and long-term studies suggest that those of us who smile more often are more positive and happy in life.[1] Improving your smile can open doors to new opportunities, and make you feel happier and more fulfilled in your life.

Part 1
Caring for Your Teeth

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    Brush your teeth correctly. The single most important thing you can do to keep your teeth healthy is to brush them two to three times a day, using the proper technique. A lot of people fall short in this area, so make sure you understand exactly how you should be brushing your teeth.[2]
    • Each time you brush your teeth, you should brush for approximately two minutes. Try using a timer to help you get the timing right.
    • Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle and brush in short, up-down strokes, making sure to brush the backs and fronts of all your teeth, even the hard to reach ones.
    • Apply gentle pressure as you brush. Brushing too hard can actually cause permanent damage to your gums, so ease up if it feels uncomfortable.
    • Don't brush more than three times a day, or you may end up causing more harm to your teeth.
    • Wait at least thirty minutes after eating before brushing your teeth to avoid spreading acid around your mouth and wearing down your enamel.
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    Buy the right toothbrush. There are a lot of options for toothbrushes these days, but luckily choosing the right one for you is rather simple. Look for a brush that is comfortable for you and makes it easy to clean your teeth thoroughly.[3]
    • Make sure the head of your toothbrush is small enough that you are able to reach all of the surfaces of your teeth, even the back ones.
    • Soft bristles are best for most people. Your gums should not feel irritated when you are brushing.
    • An electric toothbrush may make it easier for you to brush correctly, but you can achieve the same results if you commit yourself to using your manual brush the right way. It really comes down to personal preference.
    • Don't forget to replace your manual toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every three to four months.
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    Buy the right toothpaste. Plain fluoride toothpastes are best. Tartar fighting and whitening toothpastes can damage your enamel and the structure of your teeth. If you do use these products, it's a good idea to use them for only short periods of time.[4]
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    Floss your teeth at least once per day. It's best to floss in the evening to remove all of the food particles that accumulated during the day. Just like with brushing, there is a proper technique.[5]
    • Use about 18 inches of floss and wrap the ends around the middle fingers on both hands. Then hold the center of the floss taut between your thumbs and index fingers.
    • As you floss between each tooth, gently work the floss up and down, reaching up to the gum line and all the way around each tooth.
    • Use a clean section of floss for each tooth.
    • Different teeth require different types of floss. Make sure you get a floss that fits snuggly in the gaps between your teeth without causing pain. Interdental brushes, floss threaders, and water picks also work nicely for some people.
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    Consider using a fluoride mouthwash. Fluoride mouthwashes can help strengthen weak enamel. It is best, however, to wait at least an hour after brushing your teeth to use your mouthwash, as it may deactivate the active ingredients in your toothpaste.[6]
    • Avoid mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine gluconate, which can cause staining on your teeth.
    • Also avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol, which can dry out your mouth and lead to bad breath.
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    Avoid foods and drinks that are bad for your teeth. Many common foods, especially those high in sugar or acid, can eat away at the enamel on your teeth. Other substances, like coffee, tea, and red wine, can stain your teeth. Avoid these substances if possible, and consider rinsing your mouth out with water right after you enjoy them.[7]
    • If you're concerned about staining, try drinking dark liquids with a straw. This can also be helpful with acidic beverages, as it keeps much of the acid away from your teeth.
    • Common sources of acid include energy drinks, sports drinks, sodas, citric fruit, sour candies, and vinegar.
    • You should also avoid sticky candies, like caramels, as it can be very hard to remove all of the particles from between your teeth.
    • Smoking will also darken and stain your teeth..
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    Go to the dentist regularly. Most dentists recommend checkups every six months, but some studies suggest that adults can stretch that to once every 18 to 24 months.[8]
    • If you have tooth decay, cavities, staining, or other dental problems, you’ll go more often than someone who has no dental issues.
    • Even if you don't have any obvious dental issues, go to the dentist regularly, as they can catch cavities and other problems, such as gum disease and oral cancer, early.
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    Whiten your teeth. If your teeth are discolored, you might consider whitening them at home with store-bought whitening toothpastes or gel. Your dentist can also professionally whiten your teeth, which will most likely give you better results.[9]
    • If whitening products cause you to experience sensitivity in your teeth, stop using them.
    • If you have stains beyond the surface of your teeth, you will probably need to visit a dentist for a professional whitening service,
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    Consult your dentist about possible dental work. If you are really uncomfortable with your teeth, consider getting dental work. There are lots of different treatment options to deal with different concerns.[10]
    • If your teeth are crooked or you have a misaligned bite, braces or clear aligners can help correct this. The type of treatment you receive will depend upon the recommendation of the orthodontist you see.
    • If you don’t like the shape of your teeth, you can consider having your natural teeth contoured by a dental professional.[11]
    • If you have chipped or damaged teeth, you may want to ask your dentist about veneers, which are thin layers of porcelain that bond to your existing teeth. These can also help if you want to change the shape of your teeth.
    • If you are missing teeth, you might consider getting tooth implants, dentures or bridges.
    • If you have excess gum tissue, you can undergo a surgical procedure called crown lengthening, which will expose more of your teeth.[12]

Part 2
Caring for Your Lips

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    Drink enough water. Staying hydrated will help prevent your lips from getting chapped. The amount of water you need will depend upon your body, your lifestyle, and where you live, but it is commonly recommended to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water each day.[13]
    • If you exercise often or live in a hot climate, you’ll need to drink more than eight glasses of water each day.
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    Avoid licking your lips. Your saliva contains acids that will irritate your lips. In addition, licking your lips regularly will remove your lips’ natural oils that keep them moisturized.[14]
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    Avoid smoking. Smoking can darken lips, thin them, and cause wrinkles.[15]
    • If you're open to quitting, consider using a nicotine patch or an electronic cigarette. Note that if you are getting nicotine from a patch or e-cigarette, you need to ensure that you are not still smoking regular cigarettes, too, as this can be dangerous.[16]
    • If you don’t want to give up smoking cigarettes, try massaging almond and coconut oil on your lips each day, which may help reduce the discoloration of your lips.
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    Moisturize your lips. If your lips are dry or chapped, use a lip balm regularly. Ensure that whatever lip balm you choose includes SPF, regardless of the season, as your lips can burn even during winter months.[17]
    • Beeswax lip balms are popular, but in general, waxes are too heavy to moisturize your lips. If your lips are chapped, avoid waxes.
    • Look for nourishing ingredients like shea butter, vitamin E, and macadamia oil.
    • You can also try using a gentle lip exfoliator. If you don't have one on hand, use a toothbrush to gently exfoliate your lips, or massage a mixture of honey and sugar into your lips.
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    Color your lips. Lipstick and lip gloss can give your smile some extra pizzazz.Try out different shades and find a few that make you feel confident.[18]
    • Make sure to choose a shade that complements your skin tone.
    • If you are concerned about your teeth looking yellow, steer clear of orangey shades.[19]
    • Darker lipsticks can make lips look thinner, so stick to lighter shades if you have thin lips.
    • Matte lipsticks and stains can be more drying to your lips, so stick with moisturizing, creamy lipsticks or glosses if you have chapped lips.
    • Although it's more common for women to use lipstick, men with pale lips might find it useful to use a tinted lip balm.
    • If you're unhappy with the shape of your lips, you can try experimenting with lip plumping glosses. Lip liner can also help you achieve a fuller look, but make sure it matches your lipstick or is a natural tone that matches your lips.

Part 3
Smiling for the Camera

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    Smile with your eyes. When you’re genuinely smiling, the corners of your mouth push upward into the corners of your eyes. Your eyes relax and squint slightly at the corners and your lower eyelids will tighten slightly. Your upper eyelids might lower a little bit too.[20]
    • Pay attention to what happens to your face the next time you are genuinely happy and smiling. Remember how that feels. Doing it enough will commit it to your muscle memory.
    • You can also look at photos of yourself where you were genuinely happy to see how your eyes and mouth look.
    • If you smile only with your mouth and not with your eyes, your smile will look fake.
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    Relax the rest of your face. A tense smile will look forced and uncomfortable. Try to relax the muscles in your cheeks. and refrain from pulling the sides of your mouth up too high. [21]
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    Put your tongue behind your upper front teeth. This is a handy trick that will help you achieve a smile that is not too big and not too small. If you look at photos of models, you might notice that many of them use this trick![22]
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    Don't say "cheese." To achieve a more flattering mouth shape, try saying a word that ends with an "uh" sounds, like "toga."[23]
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    Practice smiling in the mirror. Try out different types of smiles: a smaller, closed-mouth one; one with your mouth slightly parted; a huge smile with all of your teeth showing. Pay attention to both your mouth and your eyes here. Pick the versions of your smile that you like the best.[24]
    • When you perfect a smile you really like, take a selfie. This will help you remember the ones you like best once you’re done experimenting.
    • While taking selfies you might also consider trying out different angles (both in the camera position and how you position your face), which will help you better control how you look in photographs.
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    Channel positive thoughts. When you need to smile for a photograph, think about a happy memory or funny story. This will help you achieve a genuine smile, even if you weren't feeling much like smiling before.[25]


  • Chewing sugarless, mint-flavored gum can help rid your mouth of bacteria and keep your smile looking great.[26]</ref>
  • If you have sensitive skin, certain ingredients in products like lip balms, face washes, and toothpastes may irritate you. Pay attention to the products you are using if you are suffering from excessively dry or chapped lips.[27]
  • Don’t be afraid to have a unique smile. It’s not always necessary to fix that gap tooth or your crooked teeth. Try to learn to love your smile as it is. It’s you and it’s wonderful!
  • Some of the most famous and lovable smiles are not perfect at all. For example, actors Patricia Arquette and Kirsten Dunst are famous for their unconventional smiles. Madonna, Woody Harrelson, and Anna Paquin are also well known for their beautiful gap-toothed grins.[28]


  • Some studies have shown that the over-consumption of fluoride can cause adverse effects.[29]

Sources and Citations

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Article Info

Categories: Oral Hygiene