‘Tis the season to be…whitening. The holidays are around the corner, meaning you’ll be attending more gatherings and reuniting with old family and friends. Transform your yellowing teeth into pearly whites in time for your next holiday party.
The best way to tackle discoloration of teeth is to determine which type of yellowing is affecting your smile. There are three types of teeth discoloration:
Extrinsic Discoloration: The outer-most layer of your tooth – the enamel – can be stained by various foods and drinks, such as fruits like blueberries and cherries and coffee, wine and soda. Smoking also causes the enamel to yellow.
Intrinsic Discoloration: The dentin, or inner structure of your tooth, gets darker or comes to have a yellow tint. Intrinsic discoloration can occur for a variety of reasons, such as excess exposure to fluoride in early childhood, use of tetracycline antibiotics at age 8 or younger, or trauma that affected a tooth when you were a child. This type of discoloration can also be apparent if a permanent tooth was discolored by internal bleeding or if you were born with a condition called dentinogenesis imperfecta, which causes gray, amber or purple discolorations.
Age-related discoloration: Over time, enamel gets thinner, allowing the naturally yellowing dentin to show through. With age, prolonged exposure to certain foods and smoking will inevitably stain teeth.
While both extrinsic and intrinsic stains are removable, intrinsic stains may be more difficult and take a longer period of time to remove. Here are five tips to help you maintain your pearly white smile.
1. Brush every day
As soon as you finish eating, dental plaque begins to release harmful acids that erode your enamel. Brushing after every meal will help prevent stains from setting in. You can even rinse your mouth with water after having drinks or food that can stain your teeth, such as wine or coffee.
2. Remember to floss
Extrinsic stains caused by drinks or food can be curbed with regular flossing. This helps manage tartar buildup. When you have tartar buildup, the various foods and drinks we consume can attach itself to the buildup, causing the stains more easily.
3. At-home whitening
Toothpastes with whitening agents can remove minor stains, but the overall color of your teeth will remain the same. You can also use a bleaching gel. Keep in mind that the ones provided over the counter are not as powerful as the ones used by the dentist.
4. Consider your food choices
Instead of having sugary snacks, opt for smarter snacks that won’t stain your teeth, including carrots, broccoli or nuts. Keep in mind that while coffee and wine stain teeth, there is no harder stain to remove than the ones from drinking tea.
5. Go for regular check-ups
Visit your dentist every six months for an exam and cleaning. If you’re unhappy with the way your smile looks, you may want to discuss power bleaching with your dentist. Power bleaching involves a light-activated bleaching gel that causes teeth to whiten in 30 to 45 minutes. If your tooth appears darker after a root canal, bleaching won’t help and your dentist may recommend getting a crown or veneer.
Use these five tips to help you increase your confidence with a whiter, brighter smile—and remember that taking good care of your oral health affects your overall health.