Survival Guide: Smart Mouths
By: Ning Chao
How do you take your selfie up a notch? Boost the wattage on a smile worth flashing. Here, the top grin gurus solve your issues.
Q: Is it true that drinking green juices will stain my teeth? How can I protect my smile and still enjoy my liquid veggies? — Elani Engelken, 28, New York City
THE EXPERT: New York City cosmetic dentist Dr. Michael Apa
HE SAYS: Just like red wine, cigarettes and curry, green juices and smoothies can discolor your teeth over time — even if you drink them from a straw. The best way to prevent stains from forming is a quick post-juice brushing with water (no toothpaste necessary). Or at least try to rinse your mouth with water immediately after drinking.
Q: My lips keep peeling, and the more lip balm I put on, the more they peel. What can I do? — Jessica Willard, 22, Savannah
THE EXPERT: New York City dermatologist Dr. David Colbert
HE SAYS: Stop using your current lip balm, and switch to a simple, petroleum-ointment-only formula. Some people are sensitive to fragrances and certain fruits, so you may be having an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in your usual product. To speed up healing, try applying an over-the-counter cortisone cream before bed for 3 days, and leave your lips alone (no picking!). If they’re still molting, your skincare regimen may be to blame. Anti-acne and anti-aging ingredients, such as retinoids and glycolic acids, can dry and irritate if they end up in the wrong place. Just slather on the petroleum-based balm before you apply facial products to keep your lips protected.
Q: I use a badass electric toothbrush, and my mouth feels super-clean afterward. So how bad is it really if I don’t floss? — Marial Biard, 25, Houston
THE EXPERT: New York City cosmetic dentist Dr. Marc Lowenberg
HE SAYS: Terrible! Most of the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease live in areas between the teeth that a brush — no matter how high-tech — simply will not reach. And rinsing won’t dislodge them, either. The only way to physically remove the plaque is with floss. Because it takes 24 hours for the debris to cause any damage, flossing once a day will do the trick — but twice a day doesn’t hurt.
Q: I wore braces years ago, but my lower teeth seem to have crowded again. Is there a way to fix them without reliving my teenage nightmares? — Jordan Kopstein, 24, Claremont, CA
THE EXPERTS: Orthodontists Dr. Erin Cohen and Dr. Monica Madan of Beverly Hills Orthodontics in California
THEY SAY: Lots of our adult patients are “re-treats,” so don’t think you’re alone. Invisalign (clear removable trays that cost up to $7,000) offers great results. It’s also preferable to lingual braces (brackets placed on the back of your teeth), which may be visible when you talk and take some getting used to. Another option is retainer therapy, which will work if just one or two teeth have shifted. You don’t have to wear the retainer 22 hours a day like you do with Invisalign trays, but you’ll need more office visits because your orthodontist must adjust the retainer manually. And take note: Teeth always shift with age, so after treatment, you’ll have to wear your retainer or Invisalign every night, forever, to make sure your smile stays the same.