It’s hard to find a person who doesn’t want their pearly whites to be pearly white. From television, to magazines, to that guy or gal down the hall who has the whitest teeth on the planet, there’s pressure to make your smile shine. But two unavoidable things work against us that cause teeth to stain: food and sadly time. We can’t escape these things but we can take steps to limit their effects.
Why do teeth turn yellow?
Teeth yellow because tooth enamel is white. Over time, enamel breaks-down and exposes the dentin. Dentin is not white but has a yellow tint. Unless you put your mouth in a sterile environment, there’s no escaping this fact of life.
Food also stains our teeth. Especially delicious food! Red wine, colored sauces, sodas, teas, coffees, and bright fruit like mangoes can all exacerbate the problem. We’re not saying “don’t eat these foods!” but be smart about how much and when you eat them. First, don’t eat a lot. Sugar eats away at our teeth and causes a multitude of problems. Second, wait about an hour to brush your teeth after you’ve eaten these foods. It’s believed that these foods soften your enamel, so brushing your teeth after enjoying one of these treats, may do more harm than good.
First, make brushing a regular habit. The American Dental Association recommends you brush two times a day for two minutes. Pretty basic but it surprising how many people we see who only brush once a day… or less!
Second, leverage your body’s natural defenses increasing the amount of saliva in your mouth. Hold some in and swish it around. Removing particles and colors from your teeth is just one of the many great benefits of saliva.
Third, have a nice glass of water after you eat or drink one of these foods. The water will help wash away the acids that stain your teeth. Water will also encourage longer saliva production. Two birds, one stone!
Fourth, think about the more aggressive, bleaching or office procedures. Every month someone comes out with a new self-administered bleaching kit. Over the last decade, many have gotten pretty good. Our only recommendation is that you avoid kits with hydrogen peroxide. Why? Hydrogen peroxide removes enamel and less enamel is bad for your teeth AND pulls the yellowish color of dentin to the forefront. You don’t solve anything!
Our office, like most offices, offers clinical treatments. They range in price and duration. Talk with your dentist about what route is best for you. Remember, most of the things that cause yellowing come from what you eat and what you do right after you eat. Take a picture of your teeth today, follow the advice above, and then take a picture in four weeks. I bet your teeth will be whiter! And you didn’t spend a dime!