It's a time of shedding the previous year's worries and starting anew, and traditionally, the transition is marked by a kiss. That smooch is a symbol of good things in the year to come, and you most likely want it to be remembered for the right reasons. So, is your smile kissable… Or dismissible?
Everyone has dozens of bacteria strains in their mouth. Plenty of this bacteria is harmless and, in some cases, beneficial. According to Women's Health Magazine, when you kiss someone for 10 seconds, an average of 80 million germs are transferred from mouth to mouth. Depending on the condition of your oral health, the majority of this bacteria is healthy and natural oral flora. The bacteria that causes bad breath and an unhealthy buildup of plaque, however, leads to anything but a kissable smile.
In fact, kissing someone who has gum disease or cavity-causing bacteria can cause someone else who previously had a low concentration of "bad" bacteria to "catch" dental problems, due to the increased concentration of "bad" bacteria. This is especially the case if that person has poor oral hygiene habits, which sets the stage for tooth decay. And what's worse for a kiss (and your health) than a mouth full of decaying teeth?
Every time you eat, you're providing fuel to the bacteria that attack your tooth enamel. So try to minimize the foods that are primary contributors -- added, refined and natural sugars. Obvious sugar sources like candy and soda should be limited, but also check food labels. Many foods have sugar lurking as an unexpected ingredient. If you're cozying up for that special kiss, you'll want to avoid bad breath. Easier said than done? Not if you understand what causes it. The sweetness of your breath is affected by your diet, your brushing and flossing routine, tobacco use and your health status. Strong foods such as onions and garlic are digested and carried through the bloodstream to the lungs; their scents are noticed when you exhale. In addition, if you don't floss and brush regularly, food stays in your mouth, decomposing and harboring bacteria.
After brushing your teeth, lightly brush the freshly-rinsed toothbrush over your lips in a circular motion – this will exfoliate them, making them softer. You can also try mixing together a packet of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of lip balm plus a few drops of olive oil, and scrub it over your lips for about thirty seconds. After rinsing, gently rub a hand towel over the lips to remove extra bits of dead skin and sugar. Apply a plain lip balm immediately after. Do this two or three times a week and you'll see a huge improvement.
Also important – moisturize! We cannot stress this enough. Keep lip balm, preferably one with natural, hydrating ingredients in your pocket or purse and apply it several times a day, whenever you find yourself licking your lips or just feeling a little dry. Try to avoid licking your lips whenever possible, as this robs the delicate skin of whatever oil and moisture they have. There are enzymes and bacteria in your saliva that are made for breaking down food and they break down your lips, too.
Appearance is usually the most dominant factor in attraction, and studies show that a healthy, straight and bright smile can make you more appealing. Not to mention, that beautiful, white smile boosts your confidence and makes you more approachable.
Although this might sound a little cliché', confidence really does make all the difference. When your teeth are at their whitest, your breath is at its freshest and your mouth is at its healthiest, your pride in your smile will shine through. That confidence will take your mouth from kissable to irresistible!
About Dr. Neal