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Looking for the secret to whiter teeth? Getting – and keeping – your teeth in tip-top shape starts with prevention. Our teeth wear as we age, so Dr. Leo of Jones Bridge Dental Care in Alpharetta, GA recommends taking care to avoid the things that can stain teeth as the first step in keeping them as white as possible. “Once teeth are less white than we’d like them to be, repeatedly whitening them can give them an almost translucent appearance, which, of course, isn’t the goal at all,” says Dr. Leo. “It’s best to talk to your dentist about your options before deciding on the best whitening for you, but there are several things you can do yourself to make sure your teeth are as white as possible.”
First, if you’re a smoker, you need to quit. Aside from the widely known health risks of tobacco use, it causes staining that can actually penetrate the imperfect surface of tooth enamel, making these some of the toughest stains to remove. Of course, the longer you smoke, the more stubborn those stains will be.
Next, watching what you eat and drink can play a role in whiter teeth. An easy way to think about what will keep your teeth from being their whitest is anything that would stain a white t-shirt would also stain your teeth. In particular, watch out for red wines, dark colas, coffee, deeply colored fruits (like blackberries and blueberries), as well as sauces like soy sauce, tomato sauce and curry sauces. All of these food items can cause cumulative staining- be sure to rinse –or better yet, brush – after consuming them.
Recent research suggests that sports drinks, which can be highly acidic, can soften tooth enamel and set the stage for tooth staining. So, if you regularly sip a sports drink while you’re playing hard or working out and then go for a pizza, the whiteness of your teeth is likely to take a hit.
If your whitening needs are basic – say, your smile just doesn’t sparkle the way it used to – you may be able to brush with a baking soda solution or simple whitening toothpaste to achieve the easy whitening results you’re looking for. There are also over-the-counter whitening gels and liquids, which, unlike bleaches, don’t alter the natural color of your teeth. Many of these products contain mild abrasives, chemicals, or polishing agents to simply lift stains and brighten your smile.
But if, after a week or two with those easy whitening methods, you don’t see improvement, you may want to try an at-home tooth whitening kit. Whitening kits contain the chemical bleach carbamide peroxide, which has the ability to remove surface as well as deeper stains. It does actually change your natural tooth color. With this type of kit, you apply a peroxide-based gel to the surface of your teeth, either by painting it on or by wearing a moldable tray. The tray must be worn for 30 – 45 minutes a day for a week or more until the results you desire are achieved.
Another easy whitening option is tooth-whitening strips, sold at most drug, grocery, and discount stores. Most people are familiar with these thin plastic strips, which are coated with a gel bleach. Recommended usage is just a few minutes a day for a set number of days. Whitening results are quickly visible, and can last up to a year, remembering that stain prevention is the most important step in the process. One thing to note: whitening with strips is easy, but it won’t produce results as dramatic as the kits we mentioned.
If you’re looking for the most effective easy whitening methods, see your dentist first. Often, a professional cleaning can help remove some of the staining you’re seeing. If you don’t see enough improvement in this way, you can then ask for advice and other options.
At Jones Bridge Dental Care, we offer a “whitening for life” program, which many of our patients choose to keep their teeth white and beautiful. This professional-grade product is used at home with custom-created trays. Once a patient signs up for the program, he or she receives a complimentary 6-month supply of whitening gel at twice-annual cleaning appointments.
If you’re looking for same-day whitening results, check out Zoom! Whitening. Jones Bridge Dental Care offers this easy whitening option in-office. It is a pricier choice, but achieves excellent results, whitening teeth by up to eight shades in a short time.
“If you have dental work already, be careful about whitening,” cautions Dr. Leo. “Standard dental bleaching won’t whiten veneers, bonding, fillings, crowns, or bridges, which can produce the undesired effect of making your dental work stand out.” Be sure to discuss this whitening concern with your dentist and see if you need to look into new veneers or bonding to match your beautiful new whiter teeth.