A smile is supposed to be as natural and as comfortable as anything we do. It’s a sign of happiness, confidence, and a key tool in communicating with those we’re close to. However, many people aren’t as confident in their smile as they should be. If there’s something stopping your smile from being as bright and charming as it should, then it might be time to do something about it.

Do your daily dues
There are plenty of reasons that teeth can stain and lose their brightness. From what we eat to medication we take, it’s still essential that you maintain a thorough dental health routine to maintain strong and healthy teeth. The buildup of bacteria and plaque will make your teeth discolor much faster. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash twice a day is crucial, as is brushing after every meal.

Check out all your options
You could potentially go a lot further than simply improving your daily habits, however. There’s a lot of professional work that can improve the whiteness and completeness of your teeth. Besides whitening treatments, an oral surgeon can provide dental implants, inlays, veneers and more. Even if it’s not discoloration holding your teeth back but something like a crack or a chip, there are ways to help repair your smile, so it might be worth making an appointment.

Protect it
It’s wise to think about risks to your teeth that you can protect it from as well. A range of different habits and conditions can harm it. For instance, bruxism (also known as teeth grinding) can both discolor and damage your teeth over time. Using a bruxism mouthguard when you sleep can significantly reduce the amount of damage that it does, preserving your smile for much longer.

Avoid unhealthy exposure
Back to the issue of discoloration, you should also think of the ways that you might be speeding the process up. A complete oral health routine can diminish the effects, but smoking might still cause them to stain and fade over time. There are also foods and drinks that can stain your teeth. These include red wine, coffee, citrus, and sugary drinks like soda. Try to reduce the amount of exposure your teeth might have to these substances.

Practice makes perfect
If you have been shy with your smiles for years (or perhaps even a lifetime) then the idea of smiling brightly and naturally might not be so natural to you after all. You want to be able to show off your teeth when you have made so much improvement to it, so it may make sense to actually practice smiling in the mirror. When you’re more likely to like what you see, it can be a real shot of self-esteem, too.

Besides making it less necessary to hold back your emotions and to check your facial reactions, smiling more freely has been shown to have a positive mental health benefit. From improving your self-esteem to genuinely making you feel happier, unlocking a brighter smile could unlock a brighter you, too.