Did you know that Americans spend a whopping $1.4 billion a year to whiten their teeth? It’s not surprising really, not when you consider the emphasis we put on beauty in the United States. Of course, the importance of our smiles isn’t just a social construct. Instead, our appreciation for our pearly whites may be hardwired into us as part of the mate selection process; 96% of Americans believe that a great smile is essential to finding someone attractive.
According to the National Association of Dental Plans, approximately 126.7 million Americans lack any kind of dental care. Despite claims that the Affordable Care Act will help millions find basic coverage, many are still in need of cleanings, root canals and dental whitening. Many of those people feel that without some kind of dental insurance, they will never be able to achieve the look for their smile that they want.
Whether you want to attract a mate or you simply want to keep your teeth healthy, you don’t have to contribute to that staggering amount we spend every year to keep our teeth vibrant. There are a number of ways you can keep your teeth vibrant without having to spend a dime on dental care.
Four Ways You Can Improve Your Dental Care without Leaving Home
1. Quit It with the Caffeinated Drinks
Americans drink $4 billion worth of coffee annually, and similar amounts of tea. While these beverages help us relax or get that extra perk we need during the day, they’re also known to stain our teeth. Both coffee and tea contain tannins, staining acids that give these drinks their distinctive colors. The more you drink, the more they’ll dye your teeth a similar color. If you want to keep your teeth white on a budget, try cutting down on these caffeinated lifesavers.
2. Be Sure to Scrub Your Tongue
In truth, it’s not enough just to brush your teeth. You have to brush both your tongue and your teeth. The reason is simple: plaque and other bacteria will make a home on your tongue, resulting in bad breath and making it more difficult to keep your teeth clean. By brushing your tongue with your toothbrush or using a specialized scraper, you can help yourself avoid the issue.
3. Put Down the Cigarettes
Along with the laundry list of other problems that comes from smoking, cigarettes and cigars can and will turn your teeth to a disgusting brown and yellow color, if you smoke long enough. If emphysema and a wide selection of cancers isn’t enough to get you to quit, maybe turning your teeth into tar will be reason enough.
4. Make Your Own Whitening Products
Most whitening products are a peroxide-based mixture that work to remove scum and stains on the outside of your teeth. For similar results, you can combine equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water, using the resulting mixture as a mouthwash after you brush your teeth. Over time, this can help return your teeth to their perfectly whitened state. However, you should keep in mind that some people find that their gums are too sensitive for constant exposure to the peroxide.
Your other option is to mix a tablespoon of baking soda with just enough water to turn it into a paste. From there, you can put it on your toothbrush like you would toothpaste. Since baking soda is softer than your enamel, you can brush your teeth with it to remove stains without worrying about damaging your teeth. You can buy a bottle of peroxide and a box of baking soda for under a dollar, making these options extremely cost effective ways to keep your teeth clean.
Keeping your teeth clean and healthy is important, but it doesn’t need to be difficult. While these tips can’t take the place of seeing your dentist for a regular cleaning, they can help you save money when trying to keep your smile beautiful and attractive.