You may have the perfect hair, makeup and outfit picked out but there's one thing you may be forgetting to check off your list before a big event: your teeth. After all, what good is the perfect lipstick or jewelry if you're rocking a yellow smile? Thankfully, there are a few easy ways to prep your teeth for a big event that will leave your smile as sparkly as your statement earrings.
According to Dr. Emanuel Layliev, Director of the New York Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, teeth whitening is the most common procedure people ask for before big events — especially their weddings. But if you're planning on whitening your teeth in a dentist's office or at home, there are a few things to keep in mind. "Teeth shouldn’t be any whiter than the whites of the eyes," he says. "If you decide to do any type of beaching procedure — in office or at home — this is a helpful rule of thumb to keep your smile looking bright but natural." You should also remember that whitening won't happen over night, so it's important to give yourself a significant amount of time before the big event for any real results.
Here are some of Dr. Layliev's most effective long term and in-a-pinch smile fixes to help you get the perfect pearly whites you deserve for your big day.
1. Follow The "White Smile" Diet
Munching on crunchy snacks like apples or celery is as effective as a brushing, according to Dr. Layliev. "Raw fruits and veggies are loaded with fiber, a natural abrasive that can help clean teeth," he says. "Avoid foods that are dark and sticky, which are the worst culprits for staining — such as red wine, coffee, barbeque sauce, balsamic vinegar."
2. Pick The Right Toothpaste
Earth Paste Spearmint, $8.31, Earthpaste.com
Whitening toothpastes are your friend... at least to a certain extent. "Avoid toothpastes with abrasive ingredients like silica, especially if you have sensitive teeth or you don't have much stain buildup," says Dr. Layliev. "Kaolin clay and bentonite clay are the safest and most effective toothpaste ingredients for polishing off surface stains while being the least abrasive."
3. Change Your Coffee Habits
I know. I'm sorry for this. "Sip your coffee or latte through a straw to as to avoid direct contact with teeth which help prevent staining," says Dr. Layliev. Maybe consider switching to iced, though, because hot drink + straw = ouch.
4. Opt for Natural, Colorless Mouthwash
AlkaCare Natural Clear Mouthwash And Gargle, $18.60, Amazon.com
All mouthwash products are not created equally. "The alcohol in mouthwashes dries out dental work such as composite bondings," says Dr. Layliev. "It can also weaken the overall tooth structure, so it’s best to rinse with a natural formula that is alcohol-free." He suggests opting for a clear mouthwash that won’t mess with your bleaching treatment or undo the work of a whitening toothpaste.
5. Brush, Brush, Brush
This should go without saying (because hopefully you do it every other day, too!) but brush at least twice per day and floss daily.
6. Go See Your Dentist
Depending on how much work you want done, and how big the event is (Ex., your wedding) a bride may need a lot of time to get everything accomplished. "If a smile requires more than a simple whitening and involves a lengthier makeover, a good doctor can book out months in advance for a procedure that could take several weeks to complete," says Dr. Layliev. Book your appointment well in advance, just in case.
7. Try Petroleum Jelly
Vaseline Petroleum Jelly, $4, Amazon.com
If you have any minor defects in your smile, such as a stain or a crack, all you have to do is wipe a small dab of petroleum jelly over it. The aberration will be diffused in your photos.
8. Avoid Gold Jewelry
Pave Line Studs, $28, BaubleBar.com
Gold jewelry tends to bring out yellowish tones, so it's best avoided if you're worried about the whiteness factor of your teeth. Simple, sparkly earrings can actually help make your teeth look whiter.
9. Choose Your Lip Color Wisely
Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick in Underage Red, $21, Sephora.com
Certain lipstick shades can have varying effects on your teeth. According to Dr. Layliev, a true red shows off your pearly-whites the best, and rose, pinks, and sheer colors also offer a good contrast. Shades of magenta, however, can make teeth seem yellow.