Could white teeth be your lucky charm? It sure seems possible!
According to a study commissioned by Proctor & Gamble, those with dazzling ivories are more likely to get hired and score repeat dates.
They are also viewed as more confident, professional and outgoing. Here's what you need to do to get that winning smile.
1. Avoid coloured foods
It's not just wine, tea and coffee that you have to watch out for, says Dr Lin Gengfeng, dental surgeon at T32 Dental Centre.
They may be major culprits, but any food or drink that would taint a white sheet of cloth (read: curries, fruits and vegetables) could stain teeth, he warns.
It's impractical to abstain from all coloured foods and drinks, so rinse your mouth with water soon after meals.
Also avoid acidic drinks like soda or sports drinks, which erode tooth surfaces, making them rough and prone to staining.
Those sips could also eventually dissolve the outer enamel and expose darker underlying dentine, says Shape advisory board panellist, Dr Christina Sim.
2. Don't grow a garden
Dental plaque, a film formed on tooth surfaces by oral bacteria, can make teeth look yellow.
Some of these bacteria are chromogenic, which means they carry pigments, explains Dr Sim. Now you know why some teeth are tinged green and/or orange.
Do what you've always been told: Practise good oral hygiene - brush and floss at least twice daily.
3. Watch what's in your mouthwash
Good on you for going the whole hog and using an oral rinse.
However, be careful about the type you buy, says Dr Lin. "Some can stain teeth if used on a daily basis."
Read your labels. Avoid mouthwash that contain chlorhexidine or cetylpyridium chloride, says Dr Sim.
They're great at killing bacteria, but have the side effect of staining teeth.
This discolouration occurs mainly on the surface and can be removed by scaling and polishing, so doesn't miss your biannual dental visits.
4. Don't DIY
In general, home remedies tend to do more harm than good. Lemon juice, which is very acidic, can corrode teeth and thin the enamel, exposing the inner dentine layer and causing tooth sensitivity, says Dr Sim.
Another popular DIY fix is rubbing baking soda on teeth. Although the powder is easily available, affordable, and "mildly effective", it tends to be abrasive as well, says Dr Lin.
If you like taking matters into your own hands, get a take-home whitening kit from the dentist's. He/she will customise two "whitening trays" that fit over your teeth. Fill them with brightening gel and put them on at your own convenience.
Various concentration levels of whitening chemicals (from 10 - 35 per cent) are available. Generally, the higher the figure, the greater the efficacy, says Dr Lin.
T32 Dental Centre offers Opalescence whitening gel (from $150).
IF YOU'D RATHER LEAVE IT TO THE EXPERTS…
Opt for in-clinic whitening - the results are instant. A layer of medicated whitening gel is applied on teeth first, then activated with a blue laser, says Dr Lin.
A session at his clinic typically starts from $1,200, and patients may need several treatments, depending on the severity of discolouration.
Tooth sensitivity is a common after-effect. Also, it may not be suitable for everyone, says Dr Sim.
Those with discolouration due to dental decay will need to have their teeth cleaned and restored instead.
Get a copy of SHAPE Singapore to read about the latest news in health, fitness, beauty and nutrition. SHAPE Singapore, published by SPH Magazines, is available at all newsstands now.
Check out more stories at SHAPE Singapore online, www.shape.com.sg .