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Briefs: Tips to keep your teeth white

a few ideas to HELP keep you smiling

Whitening strips and professional treatments aren't the only ways to keep your teeth pearly. Here are a few tips from New Town Dental Arts in James City County, Va.:

Keep teeth clean. Aim to brush — or at least rinse — right after eating, especially if you've had a food or drink that stains teeth easily. Floss daily and see a dentist regularly.

Avoid foods that stain. Berries, chocolate, coffee, tea, colas, root beer, red wine and tobacco are known for discoloring enamel. Use a straw or swallow quickly to limit contact with front teeth.

Crunch away. Hard raw fruits and vegetables such as carrots and apples will help scrape away plaque, which makes teeth look dull.

Supplement regular toothpaste. Use a whitening paste once or twice a week to remove surface stains. Or mix a paste of baking soda and water and brush with it a few times a week (not daily, it's too abrasive).

Brush gently. Scrubbing too hard erodes enamel. Use a brush with soft bristles and clean with light circular motions. Note: Electric sonic toothbrushes are especially good at stain removal.

Stress test

Stress is your way of life, you're juggling tasks like a circus act, and you think you're operating at peak capacity? Think again, says another study on the effect of stress on the brain — this one from New York's Weill Medical College at Cornell and Rockefeller University and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For the study, 20 medical students about to take board exams — all indeed rather stressed — were examined via functional MRI, which measures flow of blood in the brain, as they performed different tasks. Researchers compared the performance and brain function of the medical students with a group of similarly aged subjects who were not stressed. When put to two tasks that measured the ability to shift attention and then shift back, the medical students performed far worse than the relaxed group. During the attention-shifting task, activity in their prefrontal cortices — the seat of such functions as attention, task-planning and judgment — was far lower than that of the nonstressed. A month after the exams were over, the med students repeated the tasks. Their ordeal and a period of relaxation behind them, their brain scans looked similar to those of the control group. Check out the self-help section of your bookstore, or a Web site like webmd.com, for input on how to manage your stress.

Compiled from Times wires

Briefs: Tips to keep your teeth white 02/09/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 9, 2009 5:09pm]
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