There’s no doubt you work hard for your body, regularly sweating it out and making sure your diet is (fairly) balanced. And as rewarding as those efforts are, some days it’d be nice to have a magic wand that would fix our flat butts, muffin tops, cellulite, and [insert your biggest self-perceived flaw]. But it turns out that most of us would prefer a wand for our smile.
Eighty percent of Americans would spend money to hide or correct aging flaws, according to a recent survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Of those, 62 percent would pay to fix the quality of their teeth, while less than half would pony up to lose weight.
The good news is you don't need to blow your budget for a whiter, brighter smile. Try these five tricks instead:
1. Eat your antioxidants. "The health of your gums affect your overall health," says Laura Torrado, a cosmetic and restorative dentist based in New York City. Gum disease has been linked to health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. The thought is that the bacteria from periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream, leading to inflammation in other parts of the body. So play defense and load up on fruits and vegetables of all colors to get a variety of antioxidants, one of the best inflammation fighters.
2. Practice your smile. Because every face and smile is different, there are no "rules" of how to best smile, Torrado says. She suggests practicing in front of the mirror and seeing what works for you. "Remember that all faces are asymmetrical, so look for your best angle," she says.
RELATED: For more ways to keep your mouth healthy and teeth white, check out the 10 oral hygiene habits to break.
3. Avoid stains. Everyone wants a blinding-white smile, but you won't achieve it by constantly sucking down foods that can stain, such as coffee, red wine, dark juices, or pigment-rich fruits or vegetables. So when you do have them, "brush as soon as you can after eating or drinking to keep your smile bright," says Katie Clark, R.D.
4. Consider porcelain veneers. If your smile really needs some help, Torrado suggests looking into laminates. "A porcelain facing can be made to ideal shape and color with minimal tooth enamel reduction," she says.
5. Address any underlying issues. Many dislike going to the dentist, but you must practice proper dental care in order to have a sparkling smile. If you've been putting off making an appointment, figure out what objections you have about going to the dentist to get the treatment that you need in order to achieve the perfect smile for you. Is it time, money, fear, or lack of confidence in the clinician? Torrado says these can all be conquered. "Objections about money they are not usually about money; there are a lot of outside financing companies that can help you obtain the treatment that you need," she says. "For fear, conscious sedation is a great tool; ask your dentist. And a good referral from a trusted source can place you in the right dental office for you."
On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your smile? Do you put off going to the dentist? How could you improve your smile today?
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.