Everyone strives to have white teeth for an ultra-bright smile. Beautifully white teeth are an important feature that factors into "beauty" and “youth” in our society. Unfortunately, maintaining those pearly whites can be challenging.
Teeth naturally discolor with aging. This happens because the outer dental enamel thins, making it more transparent. This reveals the darker, natural yellow, inner layer or dentin beneath the surface.
Another reason that teeth do not maintain the bright white that we all desire is that dental enamel also absorbs the tones of colored liquids we drink over time and becomes stained.
There are a few tips to keep teeth white. They include the following six ideas:
1. Avoid These Foods for Whiter Teeth
These are common foods that cause the most dental staining:
- Soy sauce
2. Avoid These Beverages for Whiter Teeth
Drinking certain liquids can also cause teeth to discolor. The most common culprits include:
- Red wine
- Carbonated drinks
- Beer, which is acidic and can damage enamel
3. Avoid Smoking and Tobacco Products for Whiter Teeth
Other than the obvious health reasons for quitting smoking (increased the risk of developing cancer), cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco also cause dark stains on teeth.
4. Substitute or Avoid These Medications When Possible
An assortment of medications can cause the teeth to discolor and lose their desired whiteness. A few of the common offenders include:
- Fluoride, which is usually good for the teeth but too much of it can cause unsightly white spots on the teeth
- Mouth rinses containing chloride or chlorhexidine
- Over-the-counter antihistamines
- Some antipsychotics
- Some anti-hypertensive or high blood pressure drugs
Some antibiotics can discolor teeth. The major offenders include Tetracycline and similar medications, such as:
- Minocycline, which causes permanent bluish-gray stains
- Doxycycline, causes yellow or gray stains, especially in children under 8 years old while teeth are developing
5. Try These Special Tips for Whiter Teeth
Here are a few additional ideas and special tips to help keep the teeth white:
- Use a straw when drinking the staining beverages you should avoid. This way, the staining beverage will slip by the front teeth.
- Brush teeth or rinse mouth after drinking the listed beverages or eating the listed foods
- Brush teeth at least twice a day. Use a short, vertical sweep, not horizontal scrubbing
- Use a soft bristle toothbrush (or electric toothbrush) to avoid causing gum damage
- Floss teeth at least once a day to remove stain-causing plaque
- Use tooth-whitening toothpaste once or twice a week. Regular toothpaste should be used the remainder of the time
- Get a comprehensive dental exam every 6 months
6. Try New Products for Teeth Whitening
Over-the-counter and professional dental whitening kits are always changing to make them more effective. Bleaching the teeth can cause temporary tooth sensitivity. This happens because the bleaching elements bubble up and get trapped along the nerve pathways. While dental touch-up treatments can be done every 6 months, most patients try to wait at least one year between professional whitening treatments.
Overall, good dental hygiene is the most important way to keep the teeth white. This includes being aware of dietary and beverage intake, scheduling regular professional dental visits, practicing scrupulous daily oral hygiene and lifestyle changes to reduce the exposure to harmful elements like tobacco. Put it all together and get ready for whiter and brighter teeth.