A great smile can light up your face (and a room). But what if you’re worried about your teeth or just don’t feel confident enough to really pile on the smile?
Whatever the reasons, it’s time to change your thought processes and embrace your smile.
This National Smile Month, clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top tips to show you how.
Get the basics right
When we give a big smile, obviously our teeth are one of the first things that get noticed. This is great if your pearly whites really are white, but not so good if you don’t think yours look great or they are giving you trouble.
As with everything in the body, good nutrition underpins health and teeth need ‘feeding’ with the right nutrients. Top of the list are vitamin D and calcium; both used to build and protect healthy teeth. Whilst most of this is done during childhood development years, just like bones, the teeth need feeding from within throughout life.
Vitamin D deficiency is still widespread as it’s not easy to obtain from food. Supplementation with a minimum of 10 micrograms daily is needed throughout the year. However, some foods that are rich in calcium. like oily fish with bones such as sardines, also contain some vitamin D. Other great sources of calcium are dairy, calcium-enriched plant milks, green leafy vegetables and nuts and seeds.
Love your gums
Just as your teeth need looking after from within, so too do your gums. And as one gets older, it’s often gums that fail rather than teeth so it’s vitally important to serve them well!
Top of the list of nutrients is vitamin C; it helps build strong blood capillaries, supports the immune system and generally protects gum health. It’s time to load up your plates with colourful fruits and vegetables, all of which are rich in vitamin C.
Additionally, vitamin D and calcium are needed for healthy gums, along with iron. If eating a juicy red steak is not for you, then leafy greens are a great source of iron, as are dried fruits such as prunes, raisins and apricots.
Glow from within
If you feel good inside, you’re much more likely to give a wide smile! Again, good nutrition underpins how we look – you can literally glow from the inside out when your diet is right.
Make sure the basics are solid; enjoy a variety of colourful vegetables, as well as good quality protein from poultry, meat, eggs, legumes, dairy and go for whole foods. Also drink plenty of water (1.5 – 2 litres daily), plus fruit or herbal teas. Skin will look lacklustre without sufficient hydration.
Importantly, keep refined sugars and stimulants to a minimum as these rob the body of key nutrients.
Body and mind combined
Food not only nourishes the body it also nourishes the mind. And when the head is in a happy place, then we feel much more like smiling. Having a varied and balanced diet is obviously essential. However, many people don’t realise that most of our neurotransmitter production, some of which controls mood and motivation, is made within the gut and only happens with the right nutrients in place.
Having plenty of fibre from whole grains, cruciferous vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds is key to maintaining a healthy gut and, in turn, a healthy mind. The omega-3 essential fats figure highly in the brain so make sure you’re eating plenty of oily fish (also rich in calcium), nuts, seeds and omega-3-rich oils and butters.
Practice makes perfect
For an extra confidence boost, why not stand in front of mirror and see what others see when you smile. Clearly, it’s best to have a natural rather than forced smile but sometimes practising in front of the mirror can help build extra confidence. How much should you open your mouth? Should you have a wide smile? Does your face crinkle (which is very warming for those on the receiving end)?
If you can get your basic health into good order, then this will only but improve the health of teeth and gums, and in turn, your smile.
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