A beautiful smile can make a great first impression, and help you feel more confident in yourself, giving you an internal feeling that can help you project your best self in any situation. But if you’re self-conscious about your teeth, it may feel like an impossibility. Whether you’re reluctant to smile for a group photo, or just hesitant to bare your teeth when meeting a new contact, disliking your own smile can be both awkward and humiliating.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way. Through a series of techniques and approaches, some of which will improve your smile itself and some of which will help you feel more confident in your smile, you can end up with a smile you’re proud to show off.
How to Get a Better Smile
Follow these steps to improve your smile—and feel good doing it:
- Brush and floss daily. The best advice is the most obvious; brush and floss your teeth on a daily basis, and throw in some mouthwash while you’re at it. These techniques have the superficial power of keeping both the surfaces and gaps between your teeth free of debris that could otherwise compromise the image of your smile. More importantly, they have a protective effect, preventing plaque buildup and cavities that could otherwise cause severe dental problems.
- Invest in whitening products. Over time, teeth have a tendency to naturally yellow. If you smoke or drink coffee regularly, this effect can be even worse. Fortunately, you can fight back against these effects by investing in whitening products either in home or with a cosmetic dentist; occasional whitening with dentist-approved products should be able to provide you with a whiter smile, without posing any risk to your oral health. Also, if you do smoke or use tobacco products, discontinue using them as soon as possible.
- Use crowns and/or veneers. If some of your teeth are chipped, broken, or otherwise damaged, you can easily restore them with the help of crowns and/or veneers. These materials are designed to look and function just like normal teeth, so the outside observer shouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
- Consider cosmetic surgery. In some cases, people feel bad about their natural smile because of factors that can’t be improved with basic dental procedures and better habits. For example, you may feel that your gums are intrusive, resulting in an unattractive smile, or you may not like the way your jaw and teeth are positioned. If this is the case, consider consulting with your dentist about the possibility of oral cosmetic surgery.
- Use braces or clear aligners. If your teeth are crooked or out of alignment, a better option may be some method of straightening. Braces have been the classic method of straightening for decades, and remain both the most cost-effective and most insurance-approved method. However, you may also be interested in using clear aligners, which are less intrusive and potentially more comfortable. Either way, you’ll spend several months to a few years to get your teeth straightened; from there, you may need to wear a retainer.
- Smile genuinely. You can also improve your smile simply by changing how you express it. Smiles seem more sincere and more inviting when they have a natural appearance; you can learn to exhibit this by pinching your cheeks and narrowing your eyes when you smile, drawing your face up rather than only smiling with your mouth. It may not seem like a big distinction, but it can dramatically change how you’re perceived.
- Practice smiling. While you’re at it, consider practicing your smile in a mirror. Experiment with holding your face in different ways, and showing off your teeth at different angles. Figure out which methods work best for you, and which ones feel best internally. Just practicing this can help you feel better about your smile, which will allow you to project more confidence in your daily interactions.
- Provide yourself better oral protection. After taking so many steps to improve your smile, you’ll want to protect it from further damage. Invest in better oral protection, especially if you play contact sports or find yourself in physically risky situations; a simple, inexpensive mouthguard is all it takes to heavily increase your level of protection.
Rebuilding Your Confidence
The trickiest part of finding your better smile is building (or rebuilding) your confidence. There’s no surgery, product, or dental technique that can make you feel better about yourself. That has to come from you. With a brighter, straighter smile, you might start to feel better about yourself, but it’s also important to raise your self-esteem in other ways. Only then will you be able to fully realize your own potential.