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Bright Whites

A brilliant smile can make all the difference in a good first impression. For those with stained or yellowed teeth, one option may be over-the-counter teeth whitening products—toothpastes, mouthwash, strips, and trays. These can produce results over time, but a better option is to visit your dentist for a whitening treatment. Getting to a dentist can result in a gleaming smile that could last as long as six to twelve months.

Look at your teeth in the mirror, and you’ll see a smooth surface. Examine the same teeth under a microscope, and you’ll see ridges, pits, and other microscopic imperfections in which pigmentation from dark substances such as coffee and tea can lodge themselves. These embedded pigments are visible to the naked eye as the yellow-gray cast to your smile that may have led you to read this article.

According to cosmetic dentist and Huffington Post contributor Dr. Thomas Connelly, the issue with red wine isn’t as much the color as the acidity. Wine is acidic enough to cause a microscopic etching process that leaves tooth enamel vulnerable to capturing pigmentation. For this reason, white wine can also enable staining of the teeth, depending on the type and color of foods that might accompany it in a meal. Dentists recommend waiting at least an hour after enjoying wine before brushing teeth. The acidic properties of wine weaken tooth enamel enough that first hour that brushing can cause damage the enamel.

Once you go in for a whitening, the dentist will give your teeth a thorough examination, ask about the cause of the staining, and perform a routine cleaning before the whitening can begin. In-office whitening usually takes 30 to 90 minutes, and you may need up to three appointments, depending on the method used, how severe the stains are, and how white you want your teeth to be.

The most effective teeth whitening methods are provided in a dentist’s office. The gel used in-office penetrates and breaks up the molecular bonds of dental stains within an hour, sometimes less. Some dentists use lasers or other light-based systems to enhance results. In these types of whitening, high-intensity light activates specialized gel, allowing deeper penetration of the oxygen-based whitening formula. Having a qualified professional whiten your teeth will not only give you the most dazzling smile possible, it will allow you to sit back and relax without needing to fuss with at-home methods.

Bite Buddies

  • Try “chewing” foods like apples, nuts, carrots, and celery. The chewing action stimulates saliva production and can help naturally keep your mouth clean.

  • Cheese helps to neutralize the pH levels in the mouth, preventing tooth decay.

  • Water! You should be drinking plenty anyway, but drinking lots of water keeps sugary substances from sticking to your teeth and encouraging bacterial growth.

  • Dunk your toothbrush in a little baking soda and water paste once every other week or so—it’s a great natural abrasive in moderation and will help things look white naturally.

Tooth Terrorizers

  • Acidic drinks like wine and citrus juices can weaken the enamel, exposing the tooth below to discoloration.

  • It might go without saying, but sugary drinks and snacks stick to teeth, inviting bacteria.

  • Coffee and tea contain tannins that can promote staining, especially in dark teas.

  • Richly colored berries can stain teeth just like clothing! Consume in moderation.

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