Every day, your teeth endure a multitude of substances thrown their way and we can often carry ourselves through the day without giving a single thought to the repercussions of our oral habits. Nevertheless, in the appearance-driven society that we live in, the yellowing of teeth is one complication of oral hygiene that is often undesired. Studies have shown that whiter teeth influence professional and personal success. Have a read and see how you can safely get the Hollywood smile you have always wanted!
To understand how to prevent and reverse the effects of yellowing teeth, we must firstly acknowledge the causes of this complication. Our teeth are covered in a layer of enamel; beneath this enamel is a deep yellow-brown material called dentin. If the enamel is thin, the dentin beneath can become more visible and thus your teeth appear yellow. Enamel thins as an individual ages, therefore, teeth will tend to become more yellow with age. One of the underlying causes of yellow teeth is sadly something out of our control: genetics. Genetic defects can cause imperfect development of teeth and discoloration. However, apart from this, yellowing is often due to surface stains rather than thin enamel.
The main culprits of these stains are our own indulgences:
Acidic foods are the enemy of white teeth! So stay away from tomatoes and citruses as they can erode the enamel and expose the yellow dentin! Sweets are also a massive contributor to poor oral health and tooth decay because of the high quantity of bacteria growing around sugar. Try drinking milk or plain water following a particularly acidic meal to wash your mouth of the erosive substances. Try to reduce in-between-meals snacking to the bare minimum as we often find it difficult to brush our teeth on the go!
Certain drinks such as Coffee and Tea contribute to the yellowing of our teeth. Make sure you brush your teeth straight away following drinking these hot drinks to avoid your teeth staining. Soda is also a drink that acts against that bright smile we all want. Because of the high content of sugar in it, when we drink soda, the bacteria in our mouth grow and release damaging acids, leading to tooth decay. Furthermore, that Saturday night glass of wine is also a major contributor to yellow teeth and tooth decay both in the case of red wine and white wine!
Yet another reason to quit! Smoking is a known contributor to yellow teeth and it is an enemy to oral health. The nicotine and tar in the tobacco can stain teeth in a very short time and the color keeps getting darker over the years.
There are several different methods of teeth whitening that can be used according to a person’s preferences. For less serious staining, many choose to use natural home remedies. This includes practices such as:
Oil pulling entails swishing a teaspoon of coconut oil around your mouth for 5-20 minutes after brushing your teeth. New studies have shown that there is a real basis behind this method as it has been shown to reduce formation of plaque. Make sure you don’t swallow the oil you have just pulled as it is full of bacteria that you do not want to stay in your body. When using coconut oil also bare in mind that it becomes solid at room temperature so the sink might not be the best place to spit it!
Another food item that can help you regain your pearly whites is, surprisingly, strawberries. Due to their acid content, strawberries can help remove surface stains on enamel. To benefit from this, you can mash up a strawberry and use a toothbrush to brush your teeth using the fruit. It is good practice to thoroughly rinse your mouth afterwards with a dash of baking soda to decrease the acidity in your mouth.
Baking soda on its own is also an excellent and natural teeth whitener. Simply wet your toothbrush with water and add the baking soda. Brush thoroughly then add toothpaste. Do not repeat more than once a week as the abrasive properties of the powder could also damage the enamel.
Professional teeth whitening
For those looking for a quicker and more decisive process, professional teeth whitening is also an option. By booking an appointment with your dentist, you can find out if teeth whitening is suitable for you (it may not be if you have complications such as gum disease or crowns). Professional teeth whitening can only be carried out by a dental professional. Therefore, it is important to ensure that if you go to a salon for this procedure, that the salon employs a registered dental profession for this treatment. Side effects of the treatment include teeth sensitivity, however, this should be temporary. Aside from professional whitening, teeth whitening kits and strips can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies and the like. These vary in effectiveness depending on the amount of whitening agent they contain so it may be of use to ask your dentist for advice before trying home treatments.
Despite all these mediums, the best combat against the staining of teeth is prevention (if possible). A vital part of your daily routine should be thoroughly brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day. Consumption of sugary and acidic food and drink (such as sweets, berries, citrus fruits, tea, coffee and wine etc.) should be limited and if you are a smoker, this is yet another reason to kick the habit.