How to Get Whiter Teeth
Like getting a car wash or applying a fresh coat of paint, preventing and removing tooth stains can take years off of your smile’s appearance and keep your teeth looking bright and healthy.
The shade of your teeth is influenced by everything from genetics to lifestyle to medications to age. But no matter what your unique combination of traits, you can find a solution that puts the dazzle back in your smile and keeps stains at bay. From daily actions to life-changing treatments, here are 10 ways you can brighten and whiten your smile, starting today.
1. Hone your tooth-brushing technique.
Though you may have already guessed (correctly) that brushing twice daily can prevent unsightly stains, you may not have guessed that brushing your teeth the wrong way can actually cause the opposite to take place.
In their enthusiasm to whiten your smile, keep it smile white and stain-free, many patients reach for a hard-bristled brush and start vigorously scrubbing away, as though they’re trying to scour the kitchen sink or lift a carpet stain. While the intention is praiseworthy, this hard-hitting technique can spell disaster for the health—and color—of your teeth by wearing down your tooth enamel and exposing the darker layer of dentin underneath.
To make your tooth-brushing efforts brightening and safe, spare your teeth from the tough love and elbow grease. Instead, use a soft-bristled toothbrush with gentle pressure twice daily, and visit your dentist for a deeper clean twice annually.
2. Go electric.
Built-up plaque—alongside being an oral health red flag—can also make your teeth look yellow and dingy. Because electric toothbrushes oscillate (swivel from side to side), they can help loosen and remove plaque from missed or hard-to-reach spaces and crevices. The consistent use of electric toothbrushes has been shown to remove up to 21% more plaque than a manual toothbrush, in addition to helping users stay more focused while brushing. Most curiously, electric toothbrushes also encourage more gentle brushing than a manual toothbrush, minimizing harmful tooth erosion.
3. Rinse and repeat.
Your mouth becomes acidic after you eat or drink. Oral bacteria start munching away on leftover sugar and starch, creating an acid byproduct that temporarily softens the enamel of your teeth. This acidic effect is further magnified if you had something that is acidic, starchy, sticky, or sugary. Brushing your teeth while they’re coated in acid can accelerate tooth erosion, leading to discoloration, yellowing, tooth decay, sensitivity, and staining.
One of the best things you can do after you eat or drink anything is to sip or swish with water to help wash acid off of your teeth. And, if you’d still like to brush, go for it! Just wait 15 to 20 minutes after you’ve finished eating or drinking.
4. Sip from a straw.
Though drinking a fine wine or foamy cappuccino through a straw hasn’t gained any notable pop culture traction (yet), this charmingly childlike technique can actually help reduce the amount of contact between your teeth and the dark, sugary, or acidic drinks that cause acid erosion and stains. To make sure you always have one on hand, stash a reusable straw in your purse, car, backpack, or office.
5. Cut out nicotine.
The tar and nicotine in tobacco products and e-cigarettes easily absorb into the microscopic pores in your tooth enamel, causing teeth to become yellow or brown. The longer nicotine is used, the darker the stains will become, making them even harder to remove.
In addition to preserving the appearance of your teeth, cutting out nicotine is a boon to your oral health, the appearance of your teeth, your lifespan, and overall well-being.
6. Limit foods and drinks that stain.
Alongside the infamous culprits of red wine, coffee, soda, and tea, some fruits and veggies—such as blueberries, kale, red grapes, cherries, and beets—contain highly pigmented compounds (called chromogens) that stick to and stain the enamel of your teeth. If cutting out coffee or kale is out of the question, try rinsing with water (#3) and drinking dark drinks out of a straw (#4). Just remember: if it can stain your tongue or clothing, it can probably stain your teeth!
7. Use a whitening toothpaste.
Many whitening toothpastes use peroxides or gentle abrasives to give your teeth a post-brush brightness and sheen. But because these whitening agents are relatively weak and have limited contact with your teeth, the effects are usually more subtle than dramatic. So while no whitening toothpaste will take you straight from discolored to white, they can help you keep stains at bay and whiten your smile a little.
8. Go pro.
The dramatic whitening results that many patients seek can only be achieved through professional whitening treatment, which can often be done right from the comfort of your own home. A professional at-home whitening kit is a non-invasive treatment that uses a prescription whitening gel and customized trays to break down stains, whiten your teeth, and restore your smile’s youthful radiance in just two to four weeks.
9. Update your fillings, crowns, or bridges.
Metal and amalgam dental fillings, crowns, and bridges take away from your smile’s brilliance and showcase the fact that you’ve needed to have restorative dental work due to tooth damage or decay. Thanks to advances in dental techniques, you now whiten your smile and have more natural-looking alternatives to restore your smile, while retaining its natural-looking appearance: tooth-colored fillings and porcelain crowns and bridges.
Tooth-colored fillings are made of composite resin and can replace old fillings or restore a tooth that’s currently disfigured or decayed. Porcelain crowns and bridges are made of durable, life-like porcelain and can replace old or failing restorations, in addition to repairing a tooth that’s currently broken, cracked, discolored, or missing.
10. Enhance your smile with cosmetic bonding or porcelain veneers.
Truth be told, some stains and discoloration simply won’t respond to whitening treatments, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create the whiter smile you crave. Cosmetic bonding and porcelain veneers work by covering stubborn discoloration and stains with durable, attractive materials that are indistinguishable from your natural teeth.
While cosmetic bonding uses a tooth-colored resin to cover stains and discoloration, a veneer treatment uses a thin shell of tooth-colored porcelain to cap the front surface of targeted teeth. As an added bonus, the benefits of cosmetic bonding and porcelain veneers don’t end with whiter teeth. Both treatments can be used to correct chips, breaks, and gaps, while porcelain veneers can even make your smile more even and straight.
Learning how you can whiten your smile and can get the results you seek may just be one dental visit away. For your best whitening options in Middletown, Ohio, contact Dr. Lang today.