The Great Quest for Whiter Teeth
Getting whiter teeth and keeping them white would be an easy task if not for the obstacles of breakfast, lunch, dinner, happy hour, and desserts. The truth is, keeper your teeth white is not just food and drink. Many things you encounter on a daily basis threaten your perfect smile.
Foods and drinks to watch out for:
The best defense is learning what to avoid and watch for - beware of these notorious staining foods and beverages. And, follow these tips to lessen the effects of each.
- Coffee: Cut back or drink lattes instead (milk doesn’t stain).
- Tea: White, green and herbal teas stain less than black tea.
- Dark colas: Switch to seltzer or skip altogether – the high sugar levels encourage decay.
- Wine: Opt for white over red.
- Dark fruits: Blueberries, blackberries, and marionberries may be good for your health but they’re pesky for your tooth color.
- Dark fruit juices: Apple juice won’t stain your teeth like cranberry will.
- Dark veggies: Remember the last time you cut a beet and your fingers turned pink? Your teeth pick up that pigment as well.
- Popsicles: If it turns your tongue blue, it’ll stain your teeth.
- Soy sauce: Use dark sauces sparingly.
- Sports drinks: Don’t sip over a long period of time.
- Balsamic vinegar: Switch to white wine vinegar.
Tips to manage stains from food and drink:
It is unreasonable to avoid everything on the list, but there are ways to decrease the stains from these foods and beverages:
- Brush your teeth after every meal: This is a great way to chase away the stains.
- Rinse your mouth with water: If your toothbrush isn’t handy, be sure to swish some water after you’ve had wine, coffee, berries, beets, or any of the above.
- Chew gum after eating or drinking: Chewing sugarless gum stimulates the production of saliva, which acts as a natural cleanser.
- Occasionally brush your teeth with baking soda: This mild abrasive can help remove some of those stains, but don’t brush too hard – you don’t want the abrasive to wear down your enamel (the outer layer of your teeth).
- Maintain good oral hygiene: Brush and floss daily, and have your teeth professionally cleaned regularly: at least once, preferably twice a year.
Additional stain factors:
While food and drink are significant stainers, the following issues can also contribute to yellow or grey teeth:
- Smoking and chewing tobacco: Along with the greater health issues involved with tobacco use (tooth decay, gum disease, cancer, heart disease), smoking and chewing tobacco lead to yellow and even brown teeth.
- Diseases and infections: Certain diseases can affect both your enamel (the outer layer of your teeth) and dentin (the layer underneath that). Also, if you are pregnant, certain infections can affect the color of your baby’s teeth.
- Medication and medical treatments: The antibiotic tetracycline can affect the color of children’s teeth. Chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride, both found in antibacterial mouthwashes, can stain teeth. Some antihistamines, antipsychotics, and antihypertensives can discolor teeth. Head and neck radiation and chemotherapy can also discolor teeth.
- Genetics and age: Your genes determine how white your teeth will be, but regardless of how white they start out, as you age your teeth will yellow, because as your enamel wears out, it exposes your dentin which is naturally more yellow.
- Excessive exposure to fluoride: Whether the fluoride levels in your water are high or you’ve used a lot of fluoride in toothpaste, rinses, or supplements, the color of your teeth can be affected.
Keep Brushing those Pearly Whites
If you brush at least twice daily and floss at least once daily, you are well on your way to keeping your teeth as stain-free as possible. Regular professional cleanings are also vital, as a dental professional has the equipment and expertise to remove plaque that even daily brushing misses. Beyond regular cleaning, whitening options abound. Over-the-counter strips, gels and toothpastes can whiten some teeth. And in-office whitening procedures are even stronger. If you have any questions about your teeth and how to keep them looking healthy and white, give us a call, or bring it up at your next appointment.