Everyone wants that Hollywood smile. If you have it, you go out of your way to maintain it. If you don’t, you’ll do anything to get it. Anything.
Dentists pocket millions every year to give patients the pearly whites that they are after. Veneers for brighter teeth, braces for straighter teeth and implants for missing teeth. What many people don’t know is that having that shiny smile doesn’t have to be that costly. There are some simple, inexpensive steps you can take to get you the smile you want.
Sugar and Dental Health
We know that sugar, when allowed to remain in contact with the teeth for an extended period of time, promotes tooth decay. In countries where very little sugar is eaten, people have healthy teeth and gums even when they are very old.
Sugar provides nourishment for the bacteria in plaque, enabling it to grow and spread but when the bacteria use the sugar as food, acid is produced, which attacks the minerals in the tooth enamel. The enamel surface is softened, and this begins the process which leads to decay.
Our mouths have a natural defense mechanism to deal with acid. Our saliva is slightly alkaline and normally it neutralizes the acid in our mouths. But when the acid is locked inside the sticky layer of plaque, the saliva cannot wash it away quickly enough and it remains concentrated at the tooth surface.
When we eat sugar, in candies or in sweetened food or drinks, acid is produced and tooth enamel actually starts to dissolve. Even if no further sugar is consumed, it will take twenty to forty minutes before the acid is fully neutralized. So if you eat candy or consume sugary drinks frequently throughout the day, conditions in your mouth may stay acidic all day, causing continuous tooth damage. In fact, eating sweet things throughout the day is much more harmful than eating them only at proper meal times.
1. Brush with baking soda
Baking soda doesn’t just get your clothes white. For generations, baking soda has been the “go-to” method for whitening teeth. You can even get toothpastes with it already mixed in. The chemical composition of baking soda allows it to tackle tough stains caused by food.
So, if you’re a wine or coffee drinker, that will certainly be good news to hear.
You can purchase the baking soda and mix with water to form a small paste. Brush your teeth as normal. When you are done rinse your mouth out. You can replace the water with hydrogen peroxide, but be careful not to swallow any of this mixture while brushing.
2. Cut out foods/drinks that stain
Above, we mentioned wine and coffee. They happen to be the main, but not the only culprits. What’s worse is many of them happen to be regularly consumed so you’re going to have to make some hard choices.
- Grape juice
- Balsamic vinegar
- Soy sauce
- Tomato sauce
Did you feel pain looking at this list? It’s a lot of stuff to cut down on when considering getting that shiny, white smile. Cutting back on some of these foods and drinks can also prevent tooth decay as they can be damaging to the enamel. If you must indulge, dentists recommend rinsing your mouth out or brushing right after.
3. Use a whitening kit
You can have dentist results, without the dentist price. This is the secret people whose teeth you admire have: a teeth whitening kit, which if you’re not familiar with, is an entire system for brightening those choppers. Whitening kits usually have gels containing hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide that you place into moulds and fit them against your teeth for a period of time. Most kits are used between 10 to 14 days. Some kits come with LED lights, which helps the chemicals to work better.
4. Eat your fruits and vegetables
There’s a reason your grandmother used to tell you an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Turns out it keeps the dentist away too.
Foods like apples, carrots and celery encourage saliva formation in the mouth. Saliva contains compounds that help protect teeth against tooth decay and also helps to keep teeth from becoming discoloured.
5. Don’t smoke
You may know that cigarettes contain nicotine. What you may not know is that nicotine, combined with oxygen, causes yellow discolouration. You also may not know that your teeth have pores. This staining combination of oxygen and nicotine passes through these pores to get deep into your teeth, yellowing them from the inside out.
Tobacco stains are very hard to remove from teeth, so if you don’t smoke don’t start. If you do, it may be time to consider stopping. What do you want more, to satisfy that nicotine craving or whiter teeth.
6. Brush and floss regularly
The best way to prevent tooth decay is by frequent and proper brushing of your teeth. Brushing is not just to remove particles of food trapped between the teeth. The most important reason is to remove the layer of plaque that causes tooth decay.
Your dentist or oral hygienist will be able to advise you about the best way to clean your teeth properly. All methods involve working the bristles of the toothbrush between the teeth and into areas where plaque accumulates. Scrubbing or rolling movements help to dislodge the plaque.
To clean your teeth properly you must have a good, unworn toothbrush. The brush should have a small head to allow you to clean around inside your mouth and especially behind the teeth. Hard bristled brushes can actually damage the teeth or gums, so choose a medium grade brush which has nylon bristles with rounded ends. Always discard and replace your toothbrush as soon as it shows any signs of wear. Toothpastes are mild abrasives which help the bristles to dislodge plaque. They also polish the tooth surface.
Do not forget regular maintenance of your teeth. Dentists recommend that you brush and floss at least twice a day for a reason. Doing this prevents stains from building up a layer over the natural color of your teeth over time. It also helps prevent the breakdown of enamel and dentine so stain materials can’t get deep within the teeth.
Brushing also gives teeth that shiny patina that people pay thousands of dollars for. Get yours for the price of your toothpaste and the time and effort it takes to brush.
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7. Try home whitening products
While a whitening kit may be good for upcoming special occasions, if you want to keep up those results, as well as do some preventative maintenance, you can brush with daily whitening products formulated for home use. These come in toothpastes and mouthwashes. Employ discretion when using these, as prolonged daily use can damage your teeth.
8. Visit a dentist
If all of the above fail, you may be dealing with tough, ingrained staining that can only be combated in a dentist’s chair. If nothing else works for you, contact your dentist and see what they recommend. That shiny smile can be yours. It just takes some care and effort on your part.