If you've gone to the dentist and walked out of there cavity-free, then you know what success tastes like. If you're on the other end of the spectrum and find yourself having issues with your pearly (possibly not-so-) whites (I've been there, you're not alone), then the advice below will be super helpful. Who knows? It might even change your (dental) life.
1. They see their dentist regularly for cleanings or checkups. The frequency with which you should be seeing your dentist will be determined by your dentist. If your teeth are routinely in good health, he or she will probably see you every six months for a cleaning and check-up. If you're having any issues (i.e. gum issues, a cavity they're keeping an eye on, etc.), they might want to see you every three months. Either way, keeping ahead of any teeth issues will be less expensive than putting off the dentist and possibly paying through the nose later (hello, root canal!).
2. They own an electric toothbrush. "Most people don't know how to properly brush their teeth," says Michael Apa, DDS, a cosmetic dentist in New York City. "You're supposed to brush in small circles in at a 45-degree angle to your gums, and an electric toothbrush mimics that motion sonically, so it takes the guesswork out of actually brushing your teeth correctly. Not to mention, it keeps you brushing for the full two minutes—the proper amount of time you should be spending on your teeth before flossing."
3. They floss daily. The right way to floss, per Dr. Apa: Using the C-curve technique. So rather than pushing your floss straight up between your teeth, hitting your gums, and then pulling the floss straight back down quickly, it's better to push the floss up between your teeth toward your gum, and then maneuver the floss around the top and side curves of your teeth on both the right and left sides, creating a C-formation.
Dr. Apa also recommends opting for a super-gentle, tape-like floss, rather than a wax-coated string, which can shred and get stuck in your teeth as you're flossing.
4. They get orthodontia. Imperfect teeth are beautiful too, but if you want straighter teeth, there are options that can get you the smile you've always wanted.
5. They wear their retainers. There's no use in spending money on braces or any other methods of teeth-straightening if you're not going to wear your retainers to keep your pearly whites looking perfect. "Your teeth have a memory and will revert back to their original state if you let them, which is why it's so important to wear the retainers that are custom-made to fit you," Dr. Apa adds.
6. They're consistent with their regimen. With brushing, flossing, whitening, and going to the dentist, don't get motivated for a week and then fall off the wagon. Consistency = zero cavities and more cash money in your bank account. I see you, vacation.
7. They use beauty products that accentuate their smile. For example, blue-tined lip gloss helps brighten your smile, while red lipstick, since it's such a contrast to white, also creates the look of a whiter smile.
8. They opt for glossy lip colors over matte. If your lips are glossy, your teeth will look whiter because of the reflectivity of light, Dr. Apa says. Matte lip colors can make your teeth look dull.
9. They use a whitening toothpaste to removes stains. It's inevitable that you're going to drink coffee, tea, or some kind of soda that might leave behind a stain or two. That's why it's important to use a whitening toothpaste that has micro-exfoliators in it. If you have sensitive teeth, use a whitening toothpaste once a week, and then use something with potassium nitrate, like Sensodyne, which seals your enamel, on the rest of the days.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.