Something that we all know is aging is a natural part of life. It's nothing to get mad about. It's nothing to be afraid of. Matter of fact, it's a blessing to be able to say that you're getting older. That said, the key to aging gracefully is preparation, and if there's one part of us that gets overlooked a lot when it comes to this, it's our teeth. Here's the thing, though. When we're babies we get a set, then lose them. Then we gain another set and that's supposed to last us for the rest of our entire lives. Between the constant eating, sometimes grinding, the kinds of foods that we eat and not always taking care of our teeth as well (or consistently) as we should, the enamel (the main layer that protects your teeth from decay) on them can start to get thinner which can make our teeth more fragile and, quite frankly, dingy looking. That's why a lot of people can look pretty good in their 50s and 60s, then smile and instantly appear 10 years older. It's because they didn't take good care of their teeth.
There's no time like the present to learn a few ways to dodge this particular bullet. Since your teeth are going to get older over time, here are 12 proven ways to help them to stay young-looking, so that you can appear more youthful, with time, as well.
1. Stay Hydrated
Have you ever really stopped to think about what's in your saliva? It's actually a combination of water, minerals, proteins, mucus and amylase (an enzyme that helps you to properly digest your food). Saliva is great at helping to prevent oral decay because it helps to remove food particles from your mouth, wash away bacteria that can lead to cavities and neutralize acids that can eventually lead to cavities and a breakdown of tooth enamel. Something that saliva needs in order to produce itself on a regular basis is water. That's why, when it comes to taking care of your teeth long-term, it's important that you drink at least 6-8 glasses of water a day. Every single day.
2. Brush with Baking Soda. Rinse with Hydrogen Peroxide.
If you don't want to go the professional whitening route, a great natural whitening alternative is to brush your teeth with a combo of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Baking soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate) is effective because it contains tiny crystals that create a texture that's able to basically "exfoliate" your teeth, so that you can safely and effectively remove plaque from them. Hydrogen peroxide is cool because it serves as a natural bleaching agent that can help to whiten your teeth while killing bad bacteria that may be lurking around in your mouth too. I've been going with this combo since I was a child and I can definitely tell a difference, every time I use it. Just make sure to rinse your mouth really well when you're done. Both things are safe. Still, they can be pretty potent too. (If you want to learn about some other natural whitening remedies, check out "10 All-Natural Ways To Strengthen Your Teeth & Whiten Your Smile").
3. Go Easy on the Brushing
There can be too much of a good thing, even when it comes to brushing your teeth. In other words, if you ever wondered if you could brush them too hard or too often, the answer is yes. What's a trip about this particular point is even that can result in tender gums and worn out enamel. Yes, you need to brush (and floss) after every meal. Just make sure that you go with a soft-bristled brush, that you stroke at a 45-degree angle to your gums and that you do it for no more than 2-2 ½ minutes. Oh, make sure that you replace your toothbrush every three months as well. Going above and beyond this could result in tooth sensitivity. You don't want that.
4. Reduce Your Acidic Intake
This one kinda sucks because I'm willing to bet that some of your favorite foods and drinks are acidic. The reason why you should reduce the amount of them that you consume is because they've got the ability to erode your tooth enamel over time which makes it easier for the pigment of foods that stain your teeth and provide that less-than-appealing yellowish look. Acidic stuff can also cause your teeth to become pretty sensitive too. If you're not exactly sure which foods and drinks fit this bill, the list includes orange juice, soda, fish, processed foods, lemonade, pineapple juice, starchy foods, grape juice, apple juice and corned beef.
So, what foods are able to make your mouth more alkaline? Good question. Some of those include zucchini, spinach, kale, pumpkin, white cabbage, arugula and artichokes. Eat more of those and less of the acidic stuff and your mouth will be much healthier.
5. Consume Calcium and Vitamin D-Rich Foods Instead
Although your teeth aren't technically bones (teeth are made up of dentin, enamel, cementum and pulp), they do need some of the same nutrients that bones do in order to remain nice and strong. One that tops the list is calcium because it's able to harden your teeth's enamel. This is why it's so important to eat foods that are rich in calcium like cheese, dark leafy greens, yogurt, canned salmon, whey protein, milk (or milk alternatives) and chia seeds.
Another nutrient that's important is Vitamin D. That's because it helps your body to process and absorb calcium. Without calcium, your teeth can start to become pretty brittle which is problematic on all kinds of levels. Foods that are loaded with Vitamin D include fortified cereals, eggs, canned tuna, shiitake mushrooms and orange juice.
6. Eat Cheese at the End of Each Meal
If cheese is something that you love to eat, you're gonna be thrilled with this tip. Remember how I mentioned a list of foods that are acidic? Well, something that you might not know about cheese is that it's naturally alkali. This means that, when you eat it, cheese can help to neutralize the acids that you may have just consumed from other foods. As a bonus, cheese also contains a good amount of calcium.
As far as the kinds of cheeses that are best, some dental experts are all about ones like Monterey jack, cheddar, Brie and Camembert due to all of the nutrients that are in them.
7. Do Some Oil Pulling
The brief history on oil pulling is it's an Ayurvedic practice that actually originated in India. The purpose of it is to use oils to literally purify your teeth and gums. While a lot of Indians prefer to go with sunflower or sesame oil for pulling, the people I personally know who oil pull typically use coconut oil since it has so many properties (such as lauric acid which reduces inflammation and Vitamin E which helps to heal tissues) in it. Anyway, all you've gotta do is put around a teaspoon of the oil of your choosing into your mouth and swish it around for about 10-15 minutes. Then spit the oil out and brush your teeth like usual. If you do this 2-3 times a week, you should notice that your teeth will feel cleaner, your teeth will appear whitener and your breath will even smell fresher.
As a special note, it can be hard to keep all of that oil and spit in your mouth when you're just sitting around and doing nothing. That's why it's usually best to oil pull while you're in the shower or super preoccupied with something that keeps you busy yet doesn't require you to talk.
8. Take a Multivitamin
One of the reasons why your teeth can start to weaken as you age is you may not be receiving all of the nutrients that they need on a regular basis. In fact, it's estimated that a whopping 92 percent of Americans have some sort of vitamin deficiency (what in the world?!). Since your teeth need calcium (again, it helps to harden your teeth's enamel); Vitamin D (it aids in boosting bone mineral density); potassium (it helps to keep your blood from becoming too acidic); phosphorus (it helps to build healthy teeth); Vitamin K (it improves bone strength); Vitamin C (it fights gingivitis), and Vitamin A (it helps to promote oral healing), you can never go wrong with 1) eating foods that have these nutrients in them and 2) taking a multivitamin on a daily basis. As far as multivitamins go, it's an easy way to make sure that you compensate for any vitamins or minerals that you might've missed due to your diet.
9. Drink Some Tea
Yeah, before you get all giddy in your soul, when I say "tea", I don't mean some good ole' southern sweet tea. What I'm referring to is green tea. Aside from the fact that green tea contains bioactive compounds that are able to improve your brain function while helping to keep you from getting type 2 diabetes and also antioxidants that can help to boost your immunity and reduce the risk of you getting certain cancers, the catechins (a specific type of antioxidant) in this kind of tea are also able to fight gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath. One of the best ways to take care of green tea's oral benefits by making your own mouthwash. A cool recipe is located here.
10. Get a Night Guard
If you've heard of the word "bruxism" before yet you're not exactly sure what it means, it's a medical term for people who grind their teeth or clench their jaws (which is around 10-15 percent of the population).
Several things can cause this including stress, internalized anger, insomnia, heavy caffeine and/or alcohol consumption and ADHD. The reason why this is an issue when it comes to the topic of aging teeth is because teeth grinding can damage the enamel of your teeth—and the weaker your enamel gets, the much more vulnerable to damage your teeth can become. How? Well, chewing your teeth can put between 20-40 pounds of pressure on them. Grinding? A whopping 250 pounds!Geeze.
A solution is to invest in a night guard (or bite splint). It's very similar to the trays that your dentist may use to whiten your teeth. You put them on at night and it helps to both shield and cushion your teeth so that you're not putting so much pressure on them while you sleep. Since night guards can also help to prevent headaches and neck pain, it definitely can't hurt to talk to your dentist about getting one either to fix any grinding issues that you have now or to use as a preventative measure.
11. Keep Metal Out of Your Mouth
I've had a root canal before. My dentist was cool. Still, it was no walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination. Anyway, if you end up needing some sort of treatment for a cavity that you might have, make sure that you avoid getting metal amalgam fillings or crowns. Those can definitely cause your mouth to look 20-plus years older than it should. Instead, ask your dentist about fillings that are the same color as your natural teeth and crowns that are ceramic. These options tend to look so much better. Younger too.
12. See Your Dentist Annually
Unfortunately, only half of Americans go to see their dentist every six months (which is actually how much we're supposed to do it). Around 15 percent go annually and over 20 percent said they haven't gone in the past few years. That's not good because your dentist is able to see signs of wear and tear, damage and even aging that you cannot. Plus, they can provide tips on how to keep your teeth in great shape for many years to come. I can't think of too many things that I dislike more than going to the dentist. Still, it's something that's crucial if you want your teeth to look great and, well, age gracefully. Make your next appointment, ASAP, OK? Excellent.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “On My Mama” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour. So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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