Medically Reviewed by Evan Frisbee, DMD on March 11, 2021
Watch Your Drinks
Anything that stains a white shirt -- like coffee, tea, cola, or red wine -- can also stain your teeth. Try to cut back if you drink these every day. And rinse your mouth with water when you're finished.
Makeup Tips for Whiter Teeth
Slick on a lipstick or gloss in a shade like cherry red, wine, berry, plum, or rosy pink. The blue-based or pink-based undertones will make any yellowish tones in your teeth less obvious.
Try a lip-plumping formula for a fuller pout. Ingredients like cinnamon and mint boost blood flow to the lips.
Brush, Floss, and Rinse
Follow the basics of good dental hygiene for a dazzling smile. Brush your teeth twice a day -- better yet, after every meal. Replace your toothbrush every 3 or 4 months, or earlier if the bristles start to fray.
Floss at least once a day. Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash to fight plaque and to keep your breath fresh. See your dentist for a professional cleaning regularly.
You've got plenty of choices to brighten your teeth without a visit to the dentist's office.
Whitening toothpastes remove surface stains with gentle brushing.
Try whitening gels, pens, rinses, strips, swabs, and trays that you can by in the drugstore. They work by bleaching teeth with a mild peroxide.
Whitening by a Pro
See your dentist for the quickest ways to remove stains and whiten teeth. One common procedure (but not the only one) used in the office is to paint your teeth with a peroxide gel and then activate the solution with a light or laser.
Your dentist can also give you a custom-fitted tray to use at home. Follow their instructions for using a safe and effective gel for the right length of time.
These might help if you feel thin lips and fine lines are dimming your smile. Hyaluronic acid fillers can plump them up. They can also pad the creases that run from your nose to the corners of the mouth.
A Botox injection can smooth out fine wrinkles around your lips, which are sometimes called "smoker’s lines."
If you smoke, stop! Quitting will help keep those lines from coming back.
Bonding: A Small Fix for Teeth
If your teeth are chipped, broken, cracked, or badly stained, bonding can be an easy fix. It can also be used to fill small gaps between teeth.
Your dentist applies a tooth-colored resin and then molds it like putty to your tooth. They then use a high-intensity light to harden the material. In the final step they polish the new bonded tooth.
Get a Veneer 'Makeover'
If your teeth are badly stained, crooked, or misshapen, fixes like bleaching or bonding might not be enough. Try porcelain veneers that cover up trouble spots.
Getting veneers can take two visits to the dentist, but they can change uneven yellow teeth into a straight row of pearly whites. They're custom-made to fit the front surface of your teeth.
Correct a Gummy Smile
The fix could be a surgery called "crown lengthening." Your periodontist, a specialist in gums, will numb your mouth. Then they cut away extra gum tissue to expose the full length of your front teeth.
The surgery may only take an hour or less. How long it takes for you to recover depends on how much work was done.
Braces for Beauty
They're not just for kids. Braces can straighten your crooked teeth and close gaps in your smile.
They can be made with ceramic, tooth-colored brackets or even clear plastic. In some cases, you may need to wear them for only 6 to 12 months.
Choose the Right Dentist
Helping you keep a bright and healthy smile is an important part of what every dentist does. For some things, though, it’s a good idea to see a specialist.
An orthodontist straightens your teeth. A prosthodontist restores teeth that are missing or that need special repairs. A periodontist specializes in taking care of gums. An endodontist does root canals. Ask your dentist for a recommendation.
The Emotional Upside of Smiling
The benefits are enough to make you, well, smile. Turn up the corners of your mouth into a grin when you’re stressed and you’ll feel calmer.
Smiling lowers blood pressure and releases the body’s natural painkillers. When you smile, people like and trust you more. They also think you’re younger than you are.
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Academy of General Dentistry.
Kimara Ahnert, New York makeup artist.
American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry: "Recipes for a Healthier Smile."
American Dental Association: "Tooth Whitening," "Cleaning Your Teeth & Gums," "Tooth Whitening/Bleaching: Treatment Considerations for Dentists and Their Patients."
Avinash S. Bidra, BDS, MS, board-certified maxillofacial prosthodontist; assistant program director, prosthodontic residency program, University of Connecticut Health Center.
Tasha Reiko Brown, Los Angeles makeup artist.
Kimberly Harms, DDS, consumer adviser, American Dental Association.