Your smiles frame your features and light up your face. And when the corners of someone else’s mouth turn upward and their eyes crinkle — the telltale signs of a true smile, aka a Duchenne smile — it signals that they’re happy. These are things you inherently get. But when the masks went on, you felt it.
Without seeing one another’s expressions, you deeply understood the impact that grins, open-mouthed laughs, and subtle, secret smiles have on connections. The instantaneous signal of friendliness was missing. The energy was off. Suddenly, there was a need for over-gesturing to compensate. “Smiling is the most potent way to convey positivity and connect with others. It does that even better than words can,” says Michelle Wax, the founder of the American Happiness Project. “I witnessed the power of a smile as I drove cross-country to interview self-described happy people.”
And it doesn’t stop at projecting happiness; forming a grin releases mood-boosting hormones and neuropeptides that tell your body you’re in a positive state of mind. It’s no wonder everyone’s motivated to show theirs off with newfound ferver. Before you start grinning 24/7, stock up on these dental health products and beauty items to achieve your healthiest smile yet.
Top-Tier Dental Health Products
Toothbrushes, paste, and floss have all undergone design makeovers, bringing new interest to the dental health product category. It’s welcome because “brushing your teeth is still the best way to keep them healthy and bright,” says Marc Lowenberg, a cosmetic dentist in New York. “The key is to be focused about it: Look in the mirror and watch that the bristles are targeting the gumline. That’s where the bacteria sit.”
Try the Hello Replaceable Head Toothbrush (Buy It, $11, ulta.com); it uses 85 percent less plastic than a typical brush. Dr. Lowenberg is a fan of the ergonomic ISSA Toothbrush by FOREO (Buy It, $169, sephora.com), which has silicone bristles that are especially gentle on sensitive gums. He pairs it with Arm & Hammer Complete Care toothpaste (Buy It, $3, amazon.com) “I like that it contains fluoride, peroxide, and baking soda, which neutralizes odor-causing bacteria and breaks up surface stains,” he says. For flossing motivation, consider the compact and cordless Waterpik ION (Buy It, $99, amazon.com)
To step up your whitening efforts, try over-the-counter bleaching strips — Dr. Lowenberg recommends Crest 3D Whitestrips Professional Effects (Buy It, $30, amazon.com) — or in-office lasers. The at-home dental health product contains about 10 percent hydrogen peroxide; a pro treatment is up to 37 percent. “The length of time your teeth stay white varies, and it depends on how often you drink coffee, tea, juice, seltzer, soda, and red wine,” says Dr. Lowenberg..
Hello Replaceable Head Toothbrush
FOREO ISSA Toothbrush
Arm & Hammer Complete Care Toothpaste
Crest 3D Whitestrips Professional Effects
New Teeth Straighteners
If jumbled teeth are stopping you from grinning as much as you’d like, then it’s worth exploring your options — there are exciting innovations. Traditional braces still exist and are necessary in certain cases, but most adults want a less blingy look. An orthodontist can advise you, and they may suggest fitting you for a series of clear plastic aligners that you can remove whenever you eat.
Aligners are convenient and low profile but require discipline: It’s on you to wear them religiously and graduate to the next aligner every two weeks. “That can be a surprisingly hard task for very busy, active people, so some give up or find that the straightening process takes a year or more,” says Amanda Gallagher, an orthodontist in Maryland. (Related: Straightening Your Teeth Is the Latest Pandemic Project)
The latest option, Inbrace, attaches a customized nickel titanium wire across the back of your teeth. “After scanning your mouth, we design a very thin and flexible wire based on what we want your end result to be,” says Dr. Gallagher. “The wire has memory, and when it’s on your teeth, it wants to return to the way we programmed it, taking your teeth along with it. Because the wire is so flexible, there’s less pain than with traditional braces. And since it’s hidden, no one notices it.” People begin to see movement within hours and typically finish treatment in six months.
Must-Have Lip Products
Makeup — and especially lip color — is about expressing yourself and feeling good. First things first: Choose an incredibly luscious mask, a neutral liner, and a yummy scrub, which will make your lip color go on smoother and last longer — especially if your skin is dry or chapped. Try Tatcha’s The Kissu Lip Mask (Buy It, $28, sephora.com), Victoria Beckham Beauty’s Lip Definer in No. 01 (Buy It, $35, net-a-porter.com), and Henné Organics’ Rose Diamonds Lip Exfoliator (Buy It, $24, amazon.com).
As for the lip color itself, there are no rules, says Suzy Gerstein, a makeup artist in New York. So choose whatever speaks to you: Maybe you like the look and feel of a strong matte red lipstick, or perhaps you’re in the mood for a slick swipe of a cooling balm. “Personally, I love a gloss-balm hybrid right now because it goes well with the transition between summer and fall,” says Gerstein. “It has a shiny, healthy-looking flush of color, isn’t sticky, and doesn’t require constant touch-ups.” (Related: 27 Influencers Prove Anyone Can Wear Bright Lipstick)
Her go-tos: Westman Atelier Squeaky Clean Liquid Lip Balm (Buy It, $38, sephora.com) and Kosas Wet Lip Oil Gloss (Buy It, $22, sephora.com). Makeup artist Trish McEvoy is most drawn to new formulas that care for her lips as she wears them: “I like a matte lip color that’s cushiony. It treats my skin and stays on longer since it doesn’t dry out quickly.” She prefers her own Trish McEvoy Liquid Lip Color Matte (Buy It, $32, nordstrom.com).
What you pair it with is also up to you. “But I find it most impactful when the other features on the face are subtly defined,” says Gerstein. “For me that means mascara, a groomed brow, and a bronzer or blush applied to cheeks and lids.”