Teeth whitening options are everywhere – maybe you’ve even tried a few. From overnight trays to carefully painting each tooth with a whitening gel and waiting for it to work, we’re not surprised to find many patients are frustrated with the whitening tools they try find at the store.
The truth is that over time your teeth become less white and the enamel, the outer covering of your teeth, starts to wear away. It can even happen to even the most diligent of brushers.
We get asked all the time after a patient gets professional teeth whitening: How can I keep them white this time?
There are 5 things every single person can do to keep their teeth whiter.
- Rinse after dark beverages. Whether it’s a glass of red wine or a daily cup of coffee (okay, or two) these dark, acidic drinks take their toll on our teeth over the years. Give your mouth a quick swish with water to help prevent staining.
- NOT brushing your teeth immediately after drinking something acidic. (Surprising, we know!) Brushing your teeth right after drinking acidic liquids can cause you to brush away parts of the enamel that have been weakened, leaving your teeth more at risk for stains and other damage. Acidic drinks to be aware of include orange juice, wine, coffee, and tea. Make sure to wait 30 minutes to help prevent the weakening of enamel and staining.
- Use a straw for beverages to avoid direct contact with teeth. Straws are a great way to spare your teeth. Bonus! If you use reusable or paper straws, you’re protecting both your teeth and the environment too.
- Chew sugarless gum. Although not as exciting as bubble gum, it is a good way to have fresh breath without adding more damage to your teeth. Sugar actually increases the amount of plaque build-up on teeth, which can ultimately lead to decay or cavities. Sugarless gum allows you to avoid the excess plaque while also helping to increase the amount of saliva in your mouth, washing away harmful acids from food.
- Floss daily. Yes, DAILY – not just a week before your appointment at our office. 😉 Getting plaque and food between your teeth can help reduce staining and future cavities.
Many of these tips are ones you have probably heard in passing or have been recommended by a friend, but be careful following every tip you come across. Once enamel is lost, it cannot come back. There are many trends like charcoal rubs, rinsing with coconut oil, or an increased fruit intake that can end up harming your enamel instead of making it stronger.
For whitening at home, you can consider stain removal toothpastes and whitening strips. Keep in mind – sometimes these quick fixes are not enough to help you achieve the sparkling smile you want. Professional-grade whitening at a dentist office involves trays of whitening solution that are stronger than any over the counter solutions. Dentists are able to customize the experience based on your dental history to make sure you get the best results for your teeth.
Making an appointment with your dentist is the best option before trying any type of whitening treatment. They can help guide you through the process and help find the best solution for you. Dentist-supervised cleanings are the safest option for both you and your enamel, and when you’re in the office, we can talk about professional-grade whitening too.