How to Keep Your Teeth as Bright and Fresh as Your Summer Whites

If your dental care routine was as involved as the rest of your grooming regimen, we wouldn't be here.

Your teeth are often the things that others notice first—but when it comes to grooming, for one reason or another—get taken care of last. Just think about how much money and time you dedicate to skincare, fragrance, and hair products, and compare the costs to your daily dental routine. Embarrassing, right?

When it comes to good dental health, you need more than just a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. So we asked Dr. Michael Apa, the famed cosmetic dentist who's treated everyone from actor Matt Dillon to the royal family of Dubai, for tips on how to maintain a great-looking but more importantly, healthy smile this summer.

Appearances can be deceiving.
"White teeth aren't necessarily healthy teeth," Apa says. "A lot of great over-the-counter products can actually mask real problems, and guys just don't go to the dentist enough." To prevent problems before they start, schedule routine visits to your dentist, and stay on top of them. If you miss an appointment, reschedule immediately. Any dentist will warn you that serious dental issues begin gradually, and by the time you notice some unpleasant side effects, reversing or repairing the damage will cost you both money and physical discomfort.

Watch (what you put in) your mouth.
As you may already know, many lifestyle and dietary choices can take a toll on your pearly whites. According to Apa, some of the biggest culprits in staining your teeth are red wine, coffee, and cigarette smoke. But whatever your vices or pleasures, Apa still believes, "Live your life as you do, and let me take care of your teeth." If you're looking for a less dulling alternative to red wine, though, Apa recommends white wine, champagne, or clear liquors.

Brush smarter, not harder.
Apa is a firm believer in investing in a quality sonic toothbrush, and why? "It provides error-proof brushing. Most guys don't know how to properly brush their teeth, for example, how long they should spend on each quadrant." Philips Sonicare and Oral-B offer models that are sleek, handsome, and goof-proof. When it comes to toothpaste, Apa recommends using a standard one daily, and alternating with a whitening toothpaste—Colgate Total Advanced Whitening Toothpaste is equally affordable and effective—weekly. If your teeth require an extra whitening boost, ask your dentist for an at-home bleaching system.

When all else fails, try the Smile Lift.
If your teeth are beyond the help of a bleach strip, Apa recommends a cosmetic procedure called the "Smile Lift." With the use of porcelain veneers and crowns, Apa can re-create any color and position you want your teeth to be, so they flatter and balance your face for a completely natural look. And because "men are much worse when it comes to discomfort and want the convenience of doing things as quickly as possible," Apa can perform the Smile Lift with a one-day turnaround for "dramatic results without invasive procedures."

Katie Chang is a writer and shopkeeper based in Brooklyn. Follow her at @katieshewrote.

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Photograph by Billy Kidd.
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