9 Surprising Ways to Whiter Teeth

A bright smile not only looks great, it could improve your chances at landing a girlfriend. According to a recent study by Match.com, 71 percent of women say that they judge a man based on his teeth. Translation: Having a brilliant smile will actually help you be more attractive to women. “A smile can be very inviting—having a whiter smile is engaging and exciting,” says Beverly Hills-based dentist Arthur Glosman.

Dating isn’t the only place where whiter teeth play a key role. Kelton Research, an independent research firm, found that your smile might also contribute to securing a dream job. Results have shown applicants are 58 percent more likely to get a job offer and 53 percent more likely to be offered an increased salary if their teeth are white. The takeaway? A sparkling smile can make you stand out among a sea of applicants. “Having a whiter smile highlights personal self-image and leaves a memorable mark on the interview,” says Dr. Glosman.

Of course, there are the usual whitening methods: toothpaste, mouthwash, gums, and expensive professional treatments. There are also easy, everyday habits that can help brighten your smile. Here are 9 simple ways to make your teeth their whitest—and the habits you should break, too.

DON’T:

Use baking soda
Baking soda may be a multi-talented cleaner for your home, but not for teeth. This chemical compound is an abrasive, meaning that it will help remove stains, but it can also be harmful. After continued use, it can begin to wear away enamel, which will cause your teeth to darken.

Eat dark foods
There are some surprising foods and condiments that Manhattan-based dentist Dr. Debra Glassman puts on her “Do Not Eat” list. Avoid marinara sauce, blueberries, and soy sauce, she says, because foods with very dark pigmentation can cause staining.

Guzzle energy drinks
In addition to the usual staining suspects (coffee, tea, and red wine), stay away from energy drinks. The acid they contain can have the same eroding effects as eating citrus fruits, only your your teeth are bathing in it. Still want your pick-me-up? Drinking beverages through a straw can protect your teeth, Dr. Glassman suggests.

DO:

Swap out your toothbrush
A whiter smile could be as easy as throwing out your old toothbrush. According Dr. Glosman, “Replace a toothbrush every three months, or as soon as you see the majority of the bristles begin to bend and look worn down.” After the bristles are worn down, your toothbrush isn’t cleaning your teeth properly.

Brush your tongue
Brushing your tongue isn’t only about having fresh breath. Dr. Glassman says it can also help prevent staining. Your tongue accumulates bacteria, which can eventually lead to discoloration. Use a soft toothbrush and long strokes starting at the very back of the tongue, rinsing your brush after each stroke. This will help remove the bacteria on the brush without re-depositing it on your tongue.

Rinse with apple cider vinegar
While it isn’t as effective as other, more mainstream whitening treatments, it is a natural and organic way to maintain a healthy smile. Dr. Glassman recommends rinsing with two parts water to one part apple cider vinegar, and swishing the solution around for one minute.

Eat raw fruits and veggies
Eating fruits, vegetables, and other crunchy foods is good for your body and your teeth. Dr. Glosman says that eating nuts, raw carrots, apples, and cauliflower can help keep your teeth clean by removing surface stains and plaque that leads to cavities.

Use gel trays instead of strips
Experts are divided on the effectiveness of whitening strips. Dr. Glassman says she’s not a fan of strips because they don’t distribute the whitening paste evenly. Teeth are usually darkest near the gum line, where the strips can’t reach. Instead, she recommends using whitening gel trays.

Rinse with water after eating oranges
Although they’re a good go-to for vitamin C, citrus fruits, such as lemons and limes, contain acid that erodes tooth enamel. This can make teeth stain more easily. The fix? Make sure to rinse your mouth out with water immediately after eating these fruits to wash the destructive acid off your teeth.

Now that we’ve got your teeth whiter, here are 5 things that can do lasting damage to your mouth. Avoid them.

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8 Psoriasis Facts You Need To Know

Question: What is psoriasis?

Answer: Psoriasis is a common condition characterized by patches of itchy, scaly, and sometimes inflamed skin. It affects as many as 7.5 million people in the United States. Although the ailment is generally mild, it can sometimes be severe, covering large areas of the skin.

Q: Is psoriasis contagious?

A: No, psoriasis is not something you can “catch.” While the scales may be unsightly, they do not pose a threat to others’ health. It also does not spread from one part of your body to another.

Q: What causes psoriasis?

A: Experts are still scratching their heads about the exact cause of this disease, though it does seem to involve an immune system malfunction. Normally, skin cells form then push up to the surface, where they eventually die and flake off. The process takes 28 to 30 days. In those who have psoriasis, however, skin cells mature and move to the surface in just 3 to 4 days. These cells fail to shed and instead pile up on the skin, forming the telltale red scales. About one-third of those afflicted with psoriasis have a family history of the condition. Experts suspect that a trigger—such as emotional stress, a skin injury, infection, or a reaction to certain medications—may bring on the condition.

Q: Can I get psoriasis?

A: Yes, you can develop this skin disorder at any time. In fact, 150,000 to 260,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. But it’s most likely to rear its ugly scales when you’re between the ages of 15 and 35. Your child, too, may be at risk: While infants are rarely affected, up to ⅓ of people with psoriasis get it before age 20.

Q: How is psoriasis diagnosed?

A: The process is simple and pain-free: A physician examines your skin and can often tell from sight whether you have psoriasis. In some instances, she may choose to biopsy the skin and examine it under a microscope.

Q: Can it affect my face?

A: In rare cases, psoriasis can develop on the face. The usual sites, however, are the scalp, knees, elbows, and torso. But be forewarned that the scales can crop up pretty much anywhere, including the nails, palms, soles of the feet, and even genitals.

Q: Can psoriasis harm my health in other ways?

A: Generally, psoriasis causes discomfort more than anything. But if left unchecked, severe cases can be dangerous. That’s because an immune system overwhelmed by psoriasis may put you at risk of developing other serious bacterial infections. What’s more, 10-30% of those who have psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis—a form similar to rheumatoid arthritis in which the joints and the soft tissue around them become inflamed and stiff. Perhaps some of the worst effects of this disease are emotional: Depression and isolation can result from the distress over one’s appearance.

Q: Is there a cure for psoriasis?

A: Unfortunately, there is no cure, but you can choose from many effective treatment options (like topical creams, pills, and injections) to lessen or control symptoms. Trial-and-error with various medications can help you find the one that works for you.

The Danger In Your Lipstick

“Parabens,” the term for a group of preservatives used in mainstream beauty products, wasn’t always a dirty word.

In 2004, Dr. Philippa Darbre, a research scientist at the University of Reading in the UK, published a small but pioneering study that showed high concentrations of parabens in human breast tumors.

Women everywhere flipped over their moisturizers to read the list of ingredients.

“That first paper shocked people because it was the first time intact parabens had ever been measured in the human body,” says Dr. Darbre. And while the study did not show that the chemicals cause cancer, it sounded a serious alarm.

Why? Parabens, which prevent bacteria from growing in beauty and personal-care products, are able to mimic or interfere with estrogen in the body, and exposure to estrogen is one of the primary influences on the development of breast cancer.

Since then, several studies have detected and reported parabens in human urine and tissue. In response, many beauty companies have eliminated them from ingredient lists, though they’re still used in many mainstream products.

Now, Dr. Darbre has published two new studies that shed even more light on the ways parabens enter our bodies and how they affect our health.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest research (and before refilling your beauty bag):

1. Parabens are getting into your body. In March, Dr. Darbre and her team published the results of a study that replicated the original study done in 2004, with a much larger sample size. They looked at the concentration of five parabens in breast tumor tissue. One or more types were found in 99% of the tissue samples, and all five were measurable in 60% of the samples. “The take-home message was that we validated the earlier study with a much more substantial study. Parabens are getting into the breast, and they’re getting in in significant amounts,” she explains.

2. Yup, your skin is letting them in. The parabens identified in the study were primarily intact, meaning they’ve bypassed the liver. What does this mean? You’re not getting them from your food; they’re being absorbed through your skin.