A bright white smile is a beautiful thing, but it requires a little work. Nature and time are working against your pearly whites. Here are 10 tips to keep your teeth white.
Brush and Floss
Teeth become discolored by the foods we eat. Keeping your teeth clean and free from food particles is the first step in keeping them white. Brush at least twice a day, and floss at least once a day. For best results, brush right after you eat, especially if you’ve consumed something that is likely to stain your teeth. Using toothpaste and mouthwash formulated for whitening will also help.
Watch What You Eat
Try to avoid foods and drinks that can stain your teeth. Coffee, wine, sports drinks, berries and tomato sauce can discolor teeth. Citrus and other acidic foods can damage the teeth enamel, letting stains get deeper into teeth. While coffee is a culprit, tea is worse. Iced or brewed, tea contains not only stain causing tannins, but acid as well. If possible, use a straw when drinking beverages with dyes or tannins in them. If you can’t avoid coffee or tea, try to cut back. Some research has shown that it is frequency of exposure that leads to deep staining.
This may be a bigger step than you are willing or able to take, but if you truly want to keep your teeth healthy and white, you need to cut out tobacco use
Know the Enemy
Know what causes stains. Put simply, pigments and tannins (plant based compounds) can stain teeth. Your tooth enamel is there to keep stains from getting below the surface. Acids do not cause stains directly, but they weaken the enamel, giving stains a way to get below the surface. So you need to try to avoid or minimize exposure to foods with tannins like coffee, wine or tea, or dyes or pigments like colored drinks, berries, and tomato-based foods.
Swish and Dab
If you can’t brush right after eating, drink some water. Swishing some water in your mouth isn’t the same as brushing, but it can remove food particles before they settle on teeth and start to stain. Another quick fix is to dab your teeth with a napkin after eating or drinking to remove stain-causing liquids or food particles.
Whitening methods like oil pulling (rinsing with coconut oil), apple cider vinegar rinsing, turmeric paste, charcoal cleaning and brushing with strawberries or lemons are often touted as solutions, but research has shown little benefit beyond basic cleaning. And in some cases, the acidity or abrasiveness of the treatment can do more harm than good.
Go for the BS (Baking Soda) or Peroxide
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) has been proven effective in removing surface stains. Hydrogen peroxide has been proven to remove surface and some deeper stains. While both can be effective, they need to be used the right way. Rather than making your own baking soda mix, find a toothpaste with sodium bicarbonate. The hydrogen peroxide you buy at the store is usually a weak solution that will likely irritate your gums before providing any benefit. You’re better off using a whitening kit that includes peroxide
Over The Counter
There are many teeth whitening products available. From strips and trays to washes and wipes. Find the one that works best for you. Some people are uncomfortable wearing strips or trays on their teeth and prefer washes or even brush-on treatments. But don’t overdo it. Many whitening treatments can cause enamel damage if overused.
Seek Professional Help
There are many reasons why teeth become discolored and may ways to whiten them. Each whitening method has benefits and drawbacks. If you are serious about keeping your teeth healthy and white, a dentist can help determine what will work best for you. A dentist may recommend an over-the-counter treatment, or a professional treatment in his or her office.
It’s easy to think about the color of your teeth when you look in the mirror. It’s easy to forget about it the rest of the time. All of the tricks above are useless if you forget to use them. So, leave yourself reminders. A small mirror beside, or attached to, your computer monitor can remind you to brush, not only your teeth, but your hair. If you pack your lunch, put a note to yourself inside. If you are buying, you can put a note in your wallet or purse. Set reminders on your cell phone about a half-hour or so after you expect to finish eating.
Or use other visual cues. Leave a water bottle on your desk when you go to lunch to remind you to brush and rinse when you return. Leave your toothbrush out where you can see it. Put a sticky note on your desk, door or refrigerator.
Get the Right Gear
Keep a travel toothbrush, toothpaste and floss in your car, desk or purse to use when you are away from home. Flossers, which combine floss and a toothpick are also good to keep on hand. Make sure you have the right toothbrush. If you are a thorough brusher, an old-fashioned manual toothbrush is fine. But electric toothbrushes can do a better job with less effort. And remember to change your brush. Regular toothbrushes and electric toothbrush heads should be replaced every three to four months, sooner if they look worn out.
Do It Right
You may be tempted to get a hard toothbrush and start scrubbing away, but the American and Canadian Dental associations recommend a soft brush and gentle brushing to avoid damaging your teeth and gums. Choose a brush that fits your mouth. If you have trouble getting into tight spots, consider a smaller brush. If you have a big mouth, get a bigger brush. Change up your brushing pattern. If you always brush the same way, you are always missing the same spots.
Don’t Give Up
It takes a while for stains to build up on teeth. It can take a while to get rid of them. You may not see much progress right away. But if you stick to it, you will get results. Changes may not be obvious to you from day to day. If you want to track your progress, take a selfie of your smile before you start and every week or so after to compare the difference.