Whether it’s in an important meeting, the much-awaited first date with your crush, or the day you meet your guy’s parents, flashing a smile is usually the first thing you do when you meet new people. (Instant ganda points!) Here, we list five things you should and shouldn’t do to keep your pearly whites sparkling.

Bring out the baking soda

Baking soda may be considered as a kitchen staple, but it can actually be a great ingredient for a number of beauty hacks. In fact, it’s a handy product that can help you score whiter teeth. Just be careful not to use too much baking soda so you don’t end up damaging your enamel (the part that covers the crown of your tooth).

How to do it: Mix several teaspoons of baking soda with enough fresh lemon juice (or water) to make a paste. Wipe your teeth off extra saliva with a paper towel. Put a good amount of paste onto your toothbrush and apply. Leave the paste on for a minute, then rinse, so as to avoid the acid affecting the enamel. No lemons at home? No problem. Just use baking soda as how you would use toothpaste.

Munch on celery, apples, pears, and carrots
Eating certain fruits and vegetables can actually whiten your teeth. Surprised? The crispy, crunchy texture helps remove plaque and even prevents its buildup. These food items act like whitening agents on the teeth because they wipe away bacteria via saliva stimulation.

Resist the urge to puff a stick
Think twice before reaching for that stick and lighter. Smoking can and will stain your teeth because of the nicotine and tar content in the tobacco. Some people have even complained that their teeth have turned brown over the years due to smoking. Yikes!

Chew sugar-less gum
Aside from gum being a stress reliever, it also stimulates saliva. When you chew gum, your salivary glands are at work—neutralizing acid, saturating your teeth with extra calcium and phosphate, and cleansing your mouth.

Think before you drink
Even though they may be filled with antioxidants and are said to be good for the heart when taken in moderation, drinking too much red wine can stain your teeth. Coffee and tea can also be the main culprits behind yellow-stained teeth. It’s best to lessen your intake of stain-causing drinks. If that seems impossible (’cause we know, coffee is your life), don’t forget to brush your teeth or gargle with water after.

Flashbox photo: Easy A, Screen Gems (2010)

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