Your smile is one of the first things that people notice during that first impression. And one of the first things that people are attracted to.
Your smile is a contributor to your success and happiness. Smiling regularly helps psychologically by reducing anxiety, increasing endorphins that make you feel good, as well as helps your immune system which can help you live healthier and longer.
Smiling also helps you professionally. It has been found that employers tend to promote people who smile often.
But why are you not smiling? Are you embarrassed by your smile?
This is a guest blog by Dr. Toni, DDS. She is a general dentist and reservist in the Navy. She is also the blogger and podcaster behind Real Happy Mom
Let’s dive into why you may be embarrassed about your smile and ultimately find out ways to improve your smile to achieve the smile of your dreams.
Why people may be embarrassed to smile:
Here are a few common reasons why people hide their smile or are embarrassed by their smile:
- missing teeth
- dirty teeth due to staining (smoking, wine, tea, coffee) or tartar build up
- crooked teeth
- damaged teeth due to chipped teeth or cavities
- spaces in between teeth
- irregularly shaped teeth
Let me help you explore some options to improve your smile…
Having a good smile with a good foundation
First things first. You have to have a good foundation. Your gums are that foundation.
Just like when you build a house, you start from the ground up. You ensure that the foundation is strong and stable before building your beautiful house.
The same applies to your gums. If your gums are not healthy, you can have beautiful looking teeth, but they will likely get damaged and will not last, just like a home on an unstable foundation.
By starting with the foundation, you want to address any gingivitis or gum disease that you may have. Then ensure good oral hygiene that includes brushing and flossing daily, in addition to seeing your dentist regularly for check-ups, cleanings, and dental treatment.
Options for brighter, whiter teeth
One of the quickest ways to improve your smile is by whitening. Whitening instantly takes years off of your teeth and improves your overall appearance.
There are several different options for whitening. The options range from inexpensive to pricey with instant results.
The most inexpensive option is whitening toothpaste. Some are better than others in providing results in short period of time. I have found that many of the whitening toothpaste is good at removing surface staining from coffee, tea, and smoking.
Another option that is relatively inexpensive is whitening strips. These strips are effective in whitening, but often take several applications before you see any results.
Whitening kits with lights
There are whitening kits that come with LED lights that are affordable. The reason for the light is to help the ingredients in the whitening gel to work quickly and effectively. Usually, you will find that you get quicker results with these type of whitening kits versus whitening strips.
Custom trays are made by your dentist to custom fit your teeth so that you use minimal product and get quick results. With custom trays, you can control how long you whiten with professional level whitening gel.
Professional in-office whitening
The most expensive but the most effective way to whiten is a professional in-office whitening treatment with your dentist. You will instantly get results, but you will have sensitive teeth.
Caution with whitening products
With any whitening product, sensitivity is a risk. The stronger the whitening gel or paste, the more likely you may experience sensitivity.
Usually, the sensitivity will subside over time, but there are some whitening systems that leave your teeth sensitive for an extended period of time.
Options for replacing missing teeth
Many times people are missing teeth for various reasons. It could be that the tooth/teeth never came in or the tooth had to be extracted or pulled.
You may have seen the memes of celebrities with their teeth and with their teeth photoshopped out. Replacing missing teeth can dramatically improve the smile and overall appearance of the celebrities.
What are the options for replacing missing teeth that you should discuss with your dentist?
Partial dentures, bridges, and implants
Implants are the ideal and optimal treatment option. Implants are a titanium screw that is put inside of the bone and a crown or cap goes on top it to function just like your natural teeth. Implants look, feel and function just like your natural teeth.
I personally have an implant and recommend it to all of my patients. Not everyone is an ideal candidate for implants.
Talk to your dentist to find out if you are. If not, discuss the other options of a partial denture or and bridge.
Straighten teeth with orthodontics
Another way to really improve your smile is with orthodontic treatment. This can be done with a general dentist or an orthodontist.
There are many different systems and brands for straightening your teeth out there. To keep things simple I am only going to talk about the two most popular options for straightening your teeth: braces and Invisalign.
Maybe it is just in my community, but braces have become extremely popular with preteens and teenagers. It seems like it is a social status now. You’re cool if you have braces.
What is really cool is when the braces come off and teeth are perfectly aligned and there is a beautiful smile.
Braces have been the traditional option for straightening teeth that include metal brackets and wires that are worn over time to move teeth into the ideal position.
But braces are not just for straightening your teeth. Braces help improve your bite, position your teeth to make it easier to clean (which decreases your chances of developing gum problems), as well as reposition your teeth to improve TMJ issues.
I only tell you this because orthodontist are only thought of as people that provide patients with straight teeth, but they do so much more than that.
If the braces face is not the way you want to go, Invisalign is another great option. Invisalign is a series of clear aligners worn over time that slowly move your teeth to get you that perfect smile.
I have used Invisalign on a some of my patients and love that my patients are able to brush and floss easily with Invisalign. Oral hygiene is really important when having any type of orthodontic treatment. Invisalign makes it easy to maintain good oral hygiene.
The only problem are my patients that do not wear the aligners as instructed. The aligners are supposed to stay in your mouth 22 hours a day. Pretty much … all day.
The only time the aligners come out is when you eat and/or drink something other than water.
Patients that don’t keep the aligners in for an optimal time will find that teeth don’t move like they should and treatment time goes up. If you know you are someone that can’t keep up with something like these aligners or know you won’t keep the aligners in your mouth, then this may not be the best option for you.
Definitely, talk to your dentist or orthodontist about your options to find out what is best for you. There are other orthodontic options that I didn’t mention that could work for you as well.
If you are considering Invisalign you can go to the website and have a dentist or orthodontist referred to you in your area for a consultation. If Invisalign is not the way you want to go, ask around for an orthodontist or go to my friend, Google. Then set up and appointment for a consultation.
For a complete and dramatic improvement of your smile, you could have a smile makeover with veneers and/or crowns. Veneers are a thin porcelain shell that goes over teeth. Just like press on nails, veneers go over your natural teeth.
By having a smile makeover you could completely change the shape, length, and shade of your teeth. This is a big investment but will yield big results.
You want to find a dentist that does cosmetic dentistry. First, sit down and talk with the dentist during a consultation about your goals and what you’re hoping to achieve with your smile.
The dentist may want to take X-rays of your teeth to make sure of many things including if you have cavities, infection, sound bone around all of your teeth. In addition, the dentist will take pictures and sometimes make molds of your teeth.
The dentist should be able to tell you your treatment options and may even opt for a wax version of what your teeth will look like or use a computer program to show before and potentially after.
This is a really big investment. Make sure to take your time finding the right dentist and then maintain your smile afterward.
Get the smile of your dreams
There are ways of improving your smile so that you can smile confidently and no longer be embarrassed by your smile.
Remember, to start with getting a good foundation with healthy gums. Then you can try whitening for a quick improvement. If you have missing teeth, be sure to discuss replacement options with your dentist.
Or you can talk to our dentist about options for straightening your teeth or smile makeover.
A confident smile help you personally, socially and professionally. Now it is time for you to get the smile of your dreams.
With lots of love, Dr. Toni