Is Your Smile Ready for Valentine’s Day?

The lips may be the subject of extra attention on and around Valentine’s Day, but the mouth and smile deserve to look and feel their best each and every one of the 364 other days of the year. The smile is intrinsically linked to confidence (or a lack thereof), and cosmetic dentist Dr. Husam Almunajed of Empire Dental Aesthetics in New Your City points to The Power and Paradox of Physical Attractiveness by Dr. Gordon Patzer as proof. Dr. Almunajed explains, “There is a perceived hierarchy of the facial components that contribute to attractiveness. There are five predominant factors, and three of them—the teeth, smile and lips—are direct dental components.” With this in mind, here are three easy ways to improve the appearance of your smile and boost your attractiveness for Valentine’s Day and beyond.

Teeth whitening
Discolored teeth detract from an otherwise beautiful smile, but teeth whitening offers a quick and often dramatic fix. “In-office whitening treatments use a bleaching agent to erase many types of stains, and optimal results can often be achieved in one treatment and enhanced with at-home maintenance,” Dr. Almunajed says. However, grey stains caused by tetracycline do not respond to whitening efforts, and improving this type of discoloration requires veneers or other restorations to recreate a more visibly pleasing shade. Dr. Almunajed adds, “Veneers may also be a better approach for patients who have stains along with other smile imperfections such as uneven tooth length, shape, spacing and positioning.”

Proper daily care
Dr. Almunajed shares, “The best way to maintain an attractive smile is to brush every morning and night, floss and use mouthwash at bedtime, and visit the dentist twice a year.” If your teeth are prone to particular issues (including cavities, sensitivity or gum inflammation), your dentist will customize an at-home plan to meet your specific needs and prevent these problems from progressing.

Fresh breath
“Bad breath isn’t always caused by a lack of oral care, and other causes include dry mouth, gum disease, medical conditions and even certain medications,” explains Dr. Almunajed. The first step in treating bad breath is identifying the source. Addressing gum disease with periodontic treatment or managing other health conditions can improve unpleasant breath and promote self-confidence.

Lip care
Dr. Almunajed says, “Think of the lips as the ‘frame’ for the smile—and a piece of artwork looks better with a beautiful border than hung as a piece of canvas on a wall, right?” Lip care is as simple as maintaining moisture (especially this time of year) with a hydrating and protective balm that contains SPF, and exfoliating dry, flaky skin if necessary. “The key is being gentle on this delicate skin, and lightly buffing the lips with a soft washcloth generally gets the job done.”