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Teeth whitening can be done safely and effectively in office or at home if prior assessments are done and proper instructions are followed. Did you know that our daily habits also contribute to yellower, discolored teeth? Here are 10 safe and effective ways to achieve whiter and brighter teeth.
1. Receive professional dental cleanings
Visiting a certified dental professional such as a dental hygienist to remove extrinsic staining and tartar on the teeth through scaling, root planing and polishing will help make your teeth look whiter. Various yellow, brown, black or even green stains from food or other intrinsic factors can accumulate on your teeth over time and regular brushing is not enough to remove them. Tartar can also form on the teeth, which make your teeth look discolored and dull.
2. Proper oral self-care
Impeccable home care can minimize the buildup of stain/tartar in between dental cleanings. Review your oral hygiene self-care with your dental hygienist to improve your brushing and interdental cleaning technique. A gentle and enamel safe whitening toothpaste may also be recommended if you are not looking for drastic whitening. Replace your toothbrush every 2-3 months or when you get sick.
3. Limit stain causing food/drinks and tobacco use
Stain causing foods/drinks can range from chocolates, berries, soy sauce, spices to coffee, red wine and tea. The longer these substances are left on your teeth, the more likely they will stain your teeth. Tobacco is also a major culprit of staining. It is not about the quantity you consume but the frequency of exposure you have with these substances that dictate the severity of staining.
4. Rinse/ drink water after consumption
Drinking an adequate amount of water is a healthy habit for your health as well as oral health. After having stain causing food/drinks, rinsing with water or drinking water afterwards can minimize the stain from adhering to your teeth, especially after consuming sticky foods/drinks.
5. Maintain a moist oral environment
Your saliva is a natural cleansing agent for your teeth. The mechanical removal of debris with saliva can decrease your chances of accumulating stains. If you drink lots of water throughout the day and still notice a dry or sticky, consult your physician as certain medications or underlying medical conditions may be causing the dry mouth (xerostomia).
6. Decrease acidity in diet
The outside layer of your teeth is white but the second layer of your teeth is actually yellow. As the enamel thins or wears down over time due to certain habits such as frequent acid consumption, your teeth may become more translucent and appear yellow as the second layer of your teeth becomes more visible. Decreasing acidic intake such as sweets, juices, fruits and carbohydrates will limit the acidic attack on your teeth; thus, maintaining the integrity of your enamel.
7. Safe in-office whitening treatment
Receiving an in-office whitening treatment from a certified dental professional can be one of the most effective and safest ways to drastically whiten your teeth. A high-grade hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide may be used as the active agent to chemically whiten the teeth. Not all individuals are ideal candidates for teeth whitening; thus, an examination by a certified dental professional should be performed to determine if an in-office whitening is a good option for you.
8. Safe at-home whitening treatment/ products
At-home whitening treatments may be recommended for suitable individuals by dental professionals either alone or in conjunction with in-office teeth whitening sessions. Clear instructions and precautions should be followed to prevent side effects of the whitening agent. A consultation with a dental professional is recommended prior to using any dental products unsupervised.
9. Identify poor habits
Root exposure or enamel wear/loss can make your teeth appear yellow and discolored. A dental professional can pinpoint the cause of these habits and correct or minimize the effects of these habits with proper toothbrushing technique, night guard or other preventative treatments.
10. Routine replacement of restorations/ fillings
Overtime, fillings, crowns, implants or other restorations may change color due to breakage, leakage or staining. Since whitening agents will not whiten restorations, replacing these restorations will whiten and allow your restorations to continue to serve their function.