Everybody knows that coffee, soda, red wine and dark pigmented juices will darken your teeth over time, but there are some simple and effective ways to have whiter looking teeth in no time. There are some helpful hints for an immediate whitening appearance as well as longer term more natural looking teeth whitening.
1. Home Whitening Strips
Tooth-whitening strips will help get rid of tooth stains. These strips are very thin, virtually invisible, and are coated with a peroxide-based whitening gel. You wear them a few minutes daily for a week or more.
Results are visible in just a few days, and last at least a year. The results with strips are not as dramatic as with whitening kits, but the strips are easy to use and pretty much foolproof.
2. Avoid Known Stain Causers
You probably know that coffee and red wine stain teeth, but they’re certainly not the only culprits that can leave your teeth looking less than stellar. There are plenty of other foods and drinks that can stain your teeth, including:
- white wine
- barbecue sauce
- green tea
- black tea
- sugary treats
- balsamic vinegar
All of these foods or drinks cause or contribute to extrinsic stains.
3. Consume Certain Foods
There are foods that can actually brighten your teeth. Fight stains and improve overall oral health by munching on the following:
- Apples. Apples improve your gum health and stimulate saliva production, which helps to rinse away stains.
- Cheese, milk and yogurt. Rich in calcium, all of these help to strengthen teeth enamel and appearance.
- Nuts, celery, broccoli and carrots. The abrasive and coarse abrasive texture of these foods scrubs off stains.
- Raw onions. The sulfur found in raw onions stops plaque from forming.
- Strawberries. The malic acid found in strawberries naturally removes surface stains lurking on your teeth.
4. Brush and Floss Daily
Dr. Strathearn says you should be brushing and flossing daily. “You want to be careful not to scrub away enamel at the gum line. You want to go below the gum line when you floss—between the gum and the tooth. That’s where people are either too aggressive or not aggressive enough.” Hardly groundbreaking information, we know, but diligence is the key.
5. Take Good Care of Your Gums
Gums are the backdrop for your teeth, and if you’re suffering from gingivitis (characterized by red, bleeding, receding or puffy gums), it can make your whole smile look unhealthy. Taking care of your gums lets your white teeth take center stage. Make sure to brush and floss twice a day. Use soft bristles rather than hard ones, as hard brushes can be too abrasive for sensitive gums and cause them to recede further. Brush gently, but thoroughly.
6. To Keep Teeth White, Don’t Light Up
Not only is it bad for your health, smoking is one of the worst offenders when it comes to staining teeth. Tobacco causes brown stains that penetrate the grooves and pits of tooth enamel. Tobacco stains can be hard to remove by brushing alone. The longer you smoke, the more entrenched the stains become. Smoking also causes bad breath and gingivitis (gum disease), and increases the risk of most types of cancer.
7. Try Whitening Gel Trays
Take everything we said about tooth whitening strips, chemicals and all, and repeat it sans the strips. Instead, gels are either brushed onto the teeth, or squeezed into a jaw-shaped tray, which you’ll then affix onto your teeth for the recommended time. After the designated time has passed, often overnight, you’ll then either brush away the gel or remove the tray.
The biggest benefit of whitening gels is that they’re so thorough. You apply the gels either directly to the teeth or in excess to the tray, and that means that all the little nooks and crannies of your teeth get whitened, from the tips to the tops. Also, the trays stay in place a bit better than the strips, since there’s no adhesive that can come unstuck.
8. More Foods That Stain Teeth
The deep color of these fruits and veggies gives them their nutritional punch. But blueberries, blackberries, and beets leave their color on teeth as well. Eat up for your health, and prevent tooth stains by:
- Brushing teeth immediately after eating.
- Rinsing your mouth with water.
9. Sports Drinks Tough on Teeth?
While all sweetened drinks are bad for teeth, some energy and sports drinks may be worse, according to one study in General Dentistry. Researchers found that these drinks — as well as bottled lemonade — may erode tooth enamel after long-term use. The result is thin, translucent, discolored teeth. To prevent tooth erosion:
- Don’t sit and sip these drinks for a long time.
- Rinse your mouth with water when you finish drinking.
10. Consider Whitening at the Dentist’s Office
The general gist goes like this: After a cheek retractor is put in your mouth, to keep your skin away from your teeth, a whitening gel containing high percentages of hydrogen peroxide is applied to your teeth. It’s left on for anywhere between 15 minutes to half an hour, washed away thoroughly, then reapplied one or more times until the desired result is acquired. Sometimes, they’ll shine a bright light on your teeth to speed along the process.