Watch any red-carpet awards show, and there's a good chance some of the brilliantly white smiles beaming at the camera were custom-crafted by Los Angeles dentist Grace Sun, DDS.
For 30 years, the renowned cosmetic dentist has created camera-ready grins for celebs such as Ellen Page, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sheryl Crow, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Samuel L. Jackson.
Sun's practice is about more than aesthetics, though. She also emphasizes the benefits of good oral hygiene. Even if you're not planning to attend a movie premiere anytime soon, you can benefit from the secrets she shares with her A-list clientele. Here's what she has to say:
Don't rely solely on your dentist.
"Some people give the responsibility [for their teeth] to their health professional -- they think all they need to do is go to the dentist for a cleaning twice a year. You should be responsible for your own oral health with daily home care."
Watch your diet.
"Diet is important. Certain foods are damaging to the teeth. The more acidic they are, the more chance there is of erosion, and that can be a problem. Refined foods adhere more easily to the surface of the teeth, which is why whole wheat bread is better for your teeth than white bread."
Think before you drink.
"Alcohol turns into sugar. People drink without thinking much of it, but alcohol will create erosion and damage the structure of the teeth."
Keep a fluoride stash.
"Have fluoride at home to re-mineralize the teeth, which will make them stronger and more resistant to breakdown. Ask what type of fluoride your health professional recommends. You can choose from a number of different fluoride gels or rinses. There are also alternatives, such as calcium phosphate."
Don't use your teeth as a tool.
"We see dental accidents. People use their front teeth as a tool -- for example, to open plastic bags. Your teeth should be working as a group. When they work as a group, the force distribution is better, and each one takes less stress. When you use one particular tooth to focus all the force, the chance of breaking it is higher. Teeth are not diamonds. You've got to be careful with them.
Ask your dentist about the basics.
"Some people I see brush only once a day. No one ever told them how many times they need to brush their teeth. We still need to review the proper home care program with our patients and not assume that they already know."
Grace Sun's Own Oral Health Habits
What's your dental care regimen?
"I treat this as a fun routine. I have a very soft microfilament toothbrush that I use for the gums, and I have a regular brush that's for my teeth, and I have a rotary electric toothbrush. I go through my brushing and then use my hydro floss oral irrigator. At the same time I do squats and relevés. I have music on. To me, it's time to take care of myself."
How do you care for your teeth while on the go?
"I'm always able to brush. I have my hygiene bag with me. On the airplane, I go to the bathroom to do it. If I travel in the car, I have water so I can rinse."
How do you come up with the advice you give your patients?
"Whatever I tell them to do I try out myself. I try different toothpastes, different bleaching products. I go to the market and look at what's out there, like over-the-counter night guards and other types of dental products."
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