Healthy moms deserve healthy smiles too

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Have you been thinking about improving your dental health and changing your smile for a while and just haven’t had the guts to take that step? Perhaps you’ve been a bit nervous about making the change. Maybe you’re apprehensive about going to the dentist and your fears are keeping you from making a change. Maybe you just don’t know what options are available. Or maybe, just maybe, you need a smile makeover and don’t even know it!

If you feel like you’re alone in this whole process, don’t worry, because I’ve been there. What started out as a routine visit to the dentist for me at the age of 15 literally changed my life and my future. Growing up, I never felt confident about my teeth. I never liked the look of my smile. I thought that I would be stuck forever, hiding behind a smile that didn’t make me feel pretty or confident.

I thought that I was simply going to have to live life with the smile that I was given. However, during a routine dental visit, my dentist urged my mom to invest in those ugly metal braces for me. As ugly as they were back then, I was so excited. Changing my smile literally changed my life forever. Now, my dental experience even led me to become a dentist to help you.

How do you know if your smile is ready for a tune up?

Many of my patients are surprised at how much work is involved in making the decision to alter 
their smile. But I don’t want anyone making hasty decisions. It’s important to have people come face-to face with their smile, find out what their smile needs and then discover how these needs relate to what might work — or not work — for them.

Let’s go through a simple process to help you decide if a change is needed.

The first test is called “The Mirror Test.” The purpose of this test is to become acquainted with what your smile really looks like.

1. Look in the mirror: Seems like a no-brainer, sure, but have you ever really looked into the mirror? Sure, we glance at it from time to time throughout the day, usually as we pass by, but it’s a rare person indeed who actually looks deep into the mirror and sticks around for what comes next. Even when we comb our hair or apply our makeup or fix our ties, we are often merely spot-checking a very specific area of our head, face or neck. We don’t really soak in the whole picture. So the first step of The Mirror Test is to stand in front of a well-lighted mirror and look, really look at yourself.

2. Smile: Okay, now look at yourself and — smile. That’s it. just smile. Smile like you normally would — not too wide, not too thin. Smile like you mean it, hold it and look at it. That’s all. Just smile.

3. Now, close your eyes: That’s right — smile and then close your eyes. Think about what you just saw, Then, think about your smile.

4. Smile again: Now open your eyes and smile again. Repeat Step 2, from above, and this time really, really concentrate on not just how your smile looks, but how it makes you feel. Check your gut reaction to tell whether you are pleased, disappointed, shocked, relieved — or a combination of all four.

5. Write down your first impression: be quick, be bold, be brave and, most of all, be HONEST.

Now the next step is rate your smile using my Hollywood Ratings System.

Hollywood is a place where everybody wants to be ranked on a list of some sort, be it “Best-Dressed,” “World’s Sexiest,” or “Most Powerful.” Well now you can rank yourself by using my simple Hollywood Ratings System. While looking in the mirror still, rank your smile.

The “A-List” Smile (4 Stars): People with A-List smiles know it – and are not afraid to share with the world how confident and beautiful they feel. It’s the smile worthy of the red carpet; this smile is marked by a wide range of positive characteristics, including:
– No visible cavities or fillings
– Clean teeth (no evidence of plaque or tartar)
– Straight teeth
– Teeth in proportion to your mouth (not too big or too small; not too short or too long)
– Healthy gums (pink in color)
– White teeth with lack of discoloration (yellow, brown, gray or black)
– Fresh, pleasant breath
– Even, uniform and proportioned gum line and not “too gummy”

The “B-List” Smile (3 Stars): The B-List Smile has the same basic characteristics as the A-List Smile, only certain changes are starting to develop causing it to lose some of its natural luster and shape. These include:
– Moderately clean teeth (slightly visible evidence of bacterial plaque or tartar)
– Mild yellowing (or other discoloration of teeth, such as brown, gray or black)
– Mild rotations, spaces or other misalignments
– Hesitance or reluctance to smile
– Minor flaws (chips; worn enamel)
– No visible cavities or fillings
– Fresh, pleasant breath

The “C-List” Smile (2 Stars): Signs of the C-List Smile include:
– Visible cavities (brown or black spots/discolorations)
– Visible old fillings or crowns
– Moderate buildup of plaque and tartar that is visible when you smile
– Moderate yellowing or other discolorations (brown, grey or black)
– Moderate flaws in alignments (moderately crooked; moderate spacing or gaps)
– More noticeable flaws (sizable chips, moderately worn enamel)
– Red, swollen gums
– An uneven gum line (or a “gummy” smile)

The “D-List” Smile (1 Star):
– Obvious neglect due to infrequent dental visits, accompanied by very little to no smiling
– Large, noticeable cavities
– Visible old fillings or crowns
– Severe tartar buildup that is noticeably visible
– Severe yellowing or other discoloration
– Severe flaws in alignment
– Red, swollen gums
– Loose teeth
– Uneven gum line
– Accompanied by bad breath from lack of dental careNow what do you do next?

It’s now up to you to decide if your smile needs basic maintenance or a makeover.

The number one concern I hear from many of my clients, personal friends, and even those who follow me on social media, is “I can’t afford dentistry right now.” One of the key messages that I’m sharing is: It doesn’t take a million bucks to have a great smile.

And, quite frankly, you can’t afford to not care for your smile. Studies show that poor oral health can not only cause tooth pain, gum disease, cavities, bad breath, and tooth loss, but is also linked to other serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and preterm or low birth weight babies in pregnant women.

Here are a few quick, affordable smile makeover procedures that can give you a picture perfect smile:

Visit your dentist for a professional cleaning to remove plaque, tartar and stains

A professional teeth cleaning usually takes a single 1 hour visit. An ultrasonic water cleaning tool, hand tools, and polishers are used to remove bacterial plaque and tartar as well as coffee, tea, or smokers’ staining. The average cost for this procedure is $75 to $175. For those with insurance, this procedure can be billed and paid for by your insurance, on average up to 100 percent.

Try teeth whitening to rejuvenate dull smiles!
Consider refreshing your look using over-the-counter whitening systems for less than $100, which can include a toothbrush, whitening strips, with special toothpaste and mouthwash.

Get the perfect smile in just a snap!
If you have more advanced smile needs, for example, to close spaces, make teeth appear straighter, hide missing teeth, or mask discolorations, and are short on time or cash, consider a Snap on Smile. This is a custom made, natural looking, tooth-colored appliance that slips over your natural teeth. The average cost for this procedure is $1,000 to $2000 for each appliance and takes only 10 to 14 days to make. For a more permanent solution, you may consider getting dental implants. Individuals who want to improve the alignment of their teeth without having to get metal braces may consider invisalign instead.

Get rid of chipped teeth, white or brown spots or even skip wearing braces by choosing bonding
Dental bonding is used to address a variety of cosmetic and restorative dental issues. Whether your teeth are chipped, cracked, discolored with unsightly brown or white spots, decayed, or you are concerned about small gaps between teeth or receding gums, dental bonding can provide a long-lasting solution to many of your dental problems. It costs about $200 to $300 per tooth.

Start Practicing At Home
Follow this smile workout at home twice daily for 2 minutes in the morning and before bed: brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an alcohol-free mouth rinse and clean the tongue. In addition, avoid habits or activities at home that can harm your teeth, such as ice chewing, opening items with your teeth, grinding your teeth, or not wearing a sports mouth guard if you participate in contact or high risk sports: you’ll save tons of money in dental bills.

All that I ask of you is to simply take charge of your dental health and the appearance of your smile today. If you’ve been guilty of putting off your next dental exam and professional cleaning, or addressing the appearance of your smile for whatever reason, consider scheduling a trip to your dentist to maintain a healthy and dazzling smile.