16 Treatments for Brighter Teeth and a Whiter Smile

Preventing Teeth Stains

As we age, the outer layer of tooth enamel wears away. The underlying layer, called dentin, is yellower. That’s why it’s important 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 up to one year. Whitening teeth too often could make them look translucent and blue, so you’ll want to maintain your new smile.

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.

Foods that Cause Teeth Stains

There’s another reason to watch what you eat. Some common foods can discolor teeth. Here’s an easy way to tell if a food might be at fault: Anything that can stain a white cotton T-shirt can stain teeth, say dentists. Coffee stains teeth, for example. Other top offenders are beverages such as tea, dark sodas, and fruit juices. These teeth stains develop slowly and become more noticeable as we age.

Think As You Drink

They may be packed with disease-fighting antioxidants, but a glass of red wine, cranberry juice, or grape juice also stains teeth easily. That doesn’t mean you should give them up, but remember to rinse your mouth after you drink. These aren’t the only teeth-staining foods to be aware of.

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.

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.

Medications That Can Stain Teeth

The antibiotic tetracycline causes gray teeth in children whose teeth are still developing. Antibacterial mouthwashes that contain chlorhexidine or cetylpyridinium chloride can also stain teeth. Some antihistamines, antipsychotic drugs, and blood pressure medications cause tooth stains, as can iron and excess fluoride. If bleaching doesn’t help, ask your dentist about dental bonding, in which a tooth-colored material is applied to teeth.

Don’t Forget Daily Maintenance

One simple strategy can help maintain white teeth: brush. Brush at least twice and floss at least once daily. Even better, brush after every meal and snack. Brushing helps prevent stains and yellow teeth, especially at the gum line. Both electric and sonic toothbrushes may be superior to traditional toothbrushes in removing plaque and surface stains on teeth.

Open Wide and Say ‘Whiter Teeth!’

See your dentist for regular checkups and professional cleaning. The abrasion and polishing methods dentists use can remove many teeth stains caused by food and tobacco.

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