White, healthy teeth is not an oxymoron—or at least it shouldn’t be! That’s the good news, though it does come with a note of caution. Just type “whiten teeth,” into an internet search browser and pages of promises pop up, all with natural solutions that instantaneously whiten teeth. However, all those promises should come with a note of caution. Many of these solutions can wear down the enamel and cause short- and long-term damage to teeth. That’s why we put together a list of tips to get white teeth without risking the health of your teeth.
Limit those yellowing foods and drinks.
Some of our favorite food and drinks, such as blackberries (or any dark berries), coffee, and soda, are the biggest culprits in yellow teeth. Limit how much you consume; when you do indulge, drink water and brush your teeth as soon as you can (especially after a soda, which is a proven source of cavities).
Give up tobacco.
There are a lot of good reasons to stop smoking or chewing tobacco, both funds (saving money!) and health wise. Quitting smoking decreases the risk for many health problems, and it also eliminates one of the chief causes of yellow teeth. The nicotine in tobacco is colorless until it comes in contact with oxygen, causing your teeth to yellow. In addition, the tar in tobacco causes dark stains that can be difficult to remove. To get whiter teeth, quit tobacco use (these tips for quitting smoking can help) and remove the source of yellow teeth.
Brush and floss twice a day.
Regular oral hygiene plays a significant role in keeping teeth healthy AND white. Brush teeth at least twice a day, and floss before or after brushing; the order doesn’t matter, as long as flossing is done. To get rid of surface stains, purchase a whitening toothpaste; look for the American Dental Association seal of approval to buy a reputable and effective product.
Know that dental work may not cooperate.
Fillings, crowns, caps, and other dental work do not whiten as other normal teeth do. If the teeth are different colors (such as brown and yellow), the teeth might whiten to different shades as well. Likewise, teeth discolored by medications or an injury may not whiten (or may whiten less) than normal teeth.
Be careful about natural and over-the-counter whitening products.
It can be really tempting to purchase any of the numerous whitening trays or rinses. Be careful. Using teeth whitening products too much or outside of the label can damage your teeth and gums or lead to injuries, such as chemical burns or loss of enamel. Trays do not always fit properly, applying the product to other areas of the mouth.
Natural home remedies come with a similar disclaimer; certain household products, especially acidic ones, can wear down the enamel in your mouth. Be cautious when mixing or applying these remedies that can do more harm than good.
Talk to your dentist.
The right dentist is a trusted professional, which is precisely why you should consult your dentist before starting any whitening program (even natural whitening remedies). Your dentist can give you advice on what to do about dental work, whitening products that won’t damage the enamel, and treat and repair any dental problems prior to whitening (for example, cavities should be filled before using a whitening product).