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Tips for a Million Dollar Smile

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It's difficult to maintain a sparkling smile when sugary snacks and tooth-staining brew beckon everywhere you turn

It's difficult to maintain a sparkling smile when sugary snacks and tooth-staining brew beckon everywhere you turn. Smoking is also a culprit--not only does it stain teeth, but smokers are twice as likely as non-smokers to develop gum disease, says David Kennedy, DDS, author of How to Save Your Teeth (Health Action Press, 1993).

Next time you visit your dentist, ask what's most important: flossing or brushing. Chances are good the answer will be flossing. Most tooth decay happens between teeth, where food particles are trapped and missed by regular brushing. Floss at least once daily, making sure you get right up in the gumline where plaque builds up.

Conventional tooth whiteners may reduce staining, but they can actually wear away tooth enamel, says Dr. Kennedy. Look for natural toothpastes in health food stores or make your own natural toothpaste by mixing a pinch of baking soda with just enough water to form a paste. You can also add a drop of peppermint essential oil for fresh breath or a drop of myrrh to heal inflamed gums.

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