Secrets to brighter and whiter teeth
Most of us want whiter and brighter teeth. Stained or discolored teeth can occur as we age, but some common foods, drinks, and medicine can stain teeth as well.
Use these small secrets to keep your teeth white or to restore the bright of your smile.
Do-it-yourself teeth whitening
You may be able to get rid of superficial stains by yourself. There are a number of at-home teeth whitening products that can do the trick: strips, kits, toothpaste, and rinses or even some old-fashioned remedies.
However, for deeper stains, you should need your dentist help.
Home whitening strips
Teeth whitening strips are very thin layers of material coated with a peroxide-based whitening gel. You should wear them on your teeth a few minutes daily for a week or more.
Results may be visible in just a few days and can last for a year or even more.
Even if the results are not as spectacular as with whitening kits or professional methods, the strips are easy to use and pretty much foolproof.
Teeth whitening kits
A home teeth whitening kit contains a bleach that can remove both deep and surface stains and even change the natural color of your teeth.
With some kits, you apply the bleaching gel with a small brush to the surface of your teeth while in other kits, the gel is placed in a tray that molds to the teeth. The tray should be worn every day for 30 to 50 minutes for a week or two.
Results may show in one or two weeks. If you have coffee-stained teeth, a home whitening kit can help.
Toothpaste, gels, and rinses
Over-the-counter toothpaste, whitening gels, and rinses can help remove some surface stains. Unlike bleaches, they don't change the natural color of teeth.
Natural and age-old home remedies
Many people prefer old-fashioned remedies like using baking soda to gently brush their teeth. Some fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, celery, and carrots trigger lots of saliva, which helps wash away food debris and neutralizes the acid that causes tooth decay.
Chewing sugarless gum is a tooth-cleansing action; it is a good idea to chew some gum when you cannot brush your teeth.
Professional teeth whitening
Teeth whitening is the most common procedure in cosmetic dentistry. You should approach professional whitening with caution if you have lots of dental work such as fillings, dental veneers, crowns or bridges.
The bleaching gel will not lighten these restorations; this means they will stand out among your newly whitened natural teeth.
In order to match your new white teeth, you may need to change these restorations once the whitening procedure is completed.
Preventing teeth staining
If you want to keep the new color of your teeth for a longer period, it is wise to try to avoid staining teeth in the first place, especially after whitening.
If you take care with foods and drinks that discolor teeth, the results of whitening may last more. Moreover, whitening teeth too often could make them look translucent and blue.
Smoking stains teeth
We all know that smoking is bad for the health. Besides that, smoking can stain teeth: tobacco can cause brown stains that penetrate the enamel and are very hard to remove.
Smoking also causes bad breath and gingivitis and increases the risk of most types of cancer.
Foods that cause teeth stains
Want to know which food can stain your teeth ? Here's an easy way to tell: anything that can stain a white cotton T-shirt can stain teeth.
Coffee, tea and dark sodas or fruit juices are the most common offenders. These stains develop slowly and become more noticeable as we age.
Acid drinks such as red wine, cola, cranberry juice, or grape juice also stain teeth easily. Besides staining your teeth, these drinks can also cause dental erosion, where the surface enamel is lost, leaving the yellowish dentin underneath naked.
That doesn't mean you should give them up. Remember to rinse your mouth with plenty of water after you drink.
Medications that can stain teeth
Some medications such as tetracycline can cause gray teeth in children whose teeth are still developing. Antibacterial mouthwashes that contain chlorhexidine can also stain teeth.
Other medications that can stain teeth are some antihistamines and blood pressure medications, iron or excess fluoride.
Teeth whitening methods can not always help in such situations; if this is the case, ask your dentist about dental bonding or dental veneers.
Don't forget daily maintenance and regular checkups
Brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day is vital in maintaining your white teeth. Also, you should see your dentist for regular checkups and professional cleaning.
The professional cleaning methods dentists use can remove many teeth stains caused by food and tobacco.
Last review and update: May 2019