Everyone wants an attractive smile, but it can be hard to keep your teeth looking great if you love coffee, red wine, or other beverages that stain them.
Other culprits that stain the teeth include tea, berries, juices, soda, energy and sports drinks, dark-colored sauces like tomato and soy sauce, sweets and tobacco products. The culprits are often dark pigments and tannins.
Prevention goes a long way when it comes to keeping your teeth white. While we wouldn’t recommend cutting healthy foods like berries out of your diet, you may want to minimize the exposure of your teeth to substances that stain them. Here are some ideas on how to do that:
- You don’t have to give up coffee or tea, but instead of nursing a cup all morning, finish it before you start work and then brush your teeth.
- When drinking dark-colored juices, or iced coffee or tea, use a straw.
- Brush your teeth immediately after eating or drinking foods and beverages known to stain the teeth. Or, if you don’t have a toothbrush handy, rinse your mouth with water, so the stain-producing substance isn’t sitting on the surface of your teeth for hours.
- Protect your tooth enamel. Stains are more likely to appear if the enamel is worn down. If you tend to grind your teeth, ask your dentist if getting a mouth guard makes sense for you.
What if your teeth are already yellowish or have discoloration? Patients often ask us if they should invest in whitening their teeth. We have found that common methods of tooth whitening, which rely on high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, often make the teeth more sensitive. That can cause discomfort for patients. As a result, we generally recommend that they try a lower-impact approach.
One of the best ways to whiten your teeth can be found at the farmer’s market or the produce aisle of your favorite grocer. Put some organic strawberries into a food processor or blender and turn them into a paste. (Mix in some baking soda to neutralize the acids if you have sensitive teeth). Brush this onto your teeth using a toothbrush, or have trays made—similar to the ones for tooth whitening gel. Let the paste sit on your teeth for 15 or 20 minutes before you rinse.
Sometimes, the best solutions are the simplest ones.