Posted: 03/28/12 11:59 AM ET  |  Updated: 03/28/12 11:59 AM ET

5 Surprising Ways You're Ruining Your Smile

By: Alexis Farah

You know coffee and red wine can stain your teeth, but there are other, sneakier culprits that can yellow your smile and damage your teeth. Find out what might be dulling your pearly whites -- and how to keep them sparkling.

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Swimming a few laps in the pool is great exercise, but this fitness routine could be eroding your enamel. Chlorine -- which gets in your mouth while you're swimming more often than you realize -- has a low pH balance, which can cause dental abrasion, eventually leaving your teeth brittle, sensitive and prone to decay.

Smile saver: "Opt for salt-water swimming whenever possible," says Irwin Smigel, DDS, a celebrity cosmetic dentist in New York City and president of the American Society of Dental Aesthetics. "Salt water is actually good for your teeth and has a natural antibacterial and healing effect on your mouth."

Don't have a salt-water option? Chew on this as soon as you step out of the pool: Supersmile Professional Whitening Gum ($4), which has ingredients to stabilize the pH balance of your mouth, counteracting the acidity that leads to erosion.
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