If you have ever envied someone with a dazzling set of pearly whites, then you’ve probably wondered what they know that you don’t know. What is the secret to noticeably white teeth? Teeth whitening treatments and excellent oral hygiene are two means of achieving the sparkle effect, but if you really want to look like someone who belongs in a toothpaste commercial, then you should watch what you eat. A white teeth diet that precludes and counteracts staining will set you on the way to a squeaky clean smile.
Firm, crisp foods like apples, pears, celery, raw carrots, and popcorn actually help clean the teeth while you are eating them. Citrus fruits, cheese, and milk increase salivation which counteracts the bacteria and acids that cause tooth discoloration. The malic acid and vitamin C in strawberries work as buffering agents to neutralize and dissolve plaque on the surface of teeth. Drinking lots of water is also important to rinse the mouth of the debris that causes plaque.
Black tea, coffee, dark colas, and sports drinks should be avoided since they easily stain the teeth. Certain foods that are good for your health, such as beets, blueberries, blackberries, grape juice, cranberry juice, and red wine also leave stains. It is not necessary to cut out these healthy foods from one’s diet; rather as soon as you have finished eating, you should brush your teeth, or at least rinse your mouth with water, to prevent staining.
A white teeth diet is not limited to foods. Other things you ingest, such as tobacco (cigars or cigarettes), certain antibacterial mouthwashes, and certain medications (tetracycline antibiotic notably) can cause discoloration of the teeth and should be avoided as much as possible.
Our teeth naturally begin to darken over time due to the stain that is absorbed through our food and drink. This can cause teeth to look dingy and our smile to have less of a luster. Some foods discolor teeth worse than others, like coffee, tea or red wine. These may increase tooth stain and make it more evident. What makes this stain significant is that it is inside of the tooth enamel. Abrasive toothpastes do not polish it off. The answer is to reach it inside of the tooth.
In-office tooth whitening is an effective way to eliminate this stain and make teeth appear whiter, healthier and more beautiful. For this procedure a whitening agent is applied to the teeth by a dental professional and accelerated with the use of an ultraviolet light. Within just one appointment your teeth will noticeably be several shades lighter. In office teeth whitening is the fastest way to achieve a brighter smile.
Another whitening option is with custom bleaching trays. Your dentist will take an impression of your mouth in order to create a custom fitted appliance. The finished whitening tray will hold a small amount of gel against the tooth surface of the teeth that are to be whitened. Because these are custom fitted, the chance of tissue irritation and discoloration is minimal – unlike over the counter products that are made as a one-size-fits-all tray. Commercial trays have a tendency to allow gel access to the sensitive gum tissue, resulting in irritation. Custom trays also use a professional grade whitening agent that is more effective than what you can purchase at any store.
Teeth bleaching, also called teeth whitening, is a process that whitens natural teeth through the use of bleaching agents. Teeth whitening has become very popular in recent years with many over the counter bleaching systems on the market. In addition, many dental practices offer teeth bleaching to help their patients get a brighter, whiter smile.
For most patients, teeth bleaching is safe and done at home or in the comfort of your dentist’s office. In the past, some teeth whitening products used harsh abrasives that could harm the enamel of your teeth but modern tooth whitening products rarely cause any damage to your teeth and are safe to use except in a few circumstances.
If you have caps, veneers, composite fillings cosmetic restoration you may need to have them replaced to match the brighter color of your teeth. Tooth whitening products only work on natural teeth and your artificial teeth or restoration material will look darker than your brightened teeth.
Almost all teeth bleaching systems contain peroxide so if you are sensitive to peroxide, consult with your dentist. Also, if you have damage to your teeth or are suffering from gum disease the peroxide can make it more sensitive so it is best to have your dentist take care of any dental issues before you have your teeth whitened.
There is some concern about the effects of the peroxide mixing with cigarette smoke. If you are a smoker, consult with your dentist before you start a tooth whitening program. Also, there is no data that shows that teeth whitening with peroxide based products poses a health risk to pregnant or nursing women or their babies, but it is probably a good idea to wait to have your teeth whitened.
The most effective teeth whitening products are only available for application by a dentist or supplied by your dentist. For the safest, most effective teeth whitening procedure, see your dentist.
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