Your teeth play an important role in your overall appearance. Healthy, white teeth say that you take good care of yourself and makes a favourable impression on others.
When your teeth are clean and white, you’re likely to smile more often because you’re not self-conscious. However, your daily habits directly impact the state of your teeth. If you choose a healthy lifestyle and follow a few great tips, you can keep your teeth clean and bright for a very long time.
Below are some things to never do if you want to keep your teeth bright.
Tips for getting AND keeping your teeth bright and white:
1. Avoid beverages that would naturally stain the teeth.
Common beverages like coffee and tea, while considered necessary for one’s sanity and happiness by some, are big culprits when it comes to discoloured teeth. Tea and coffee contain staining elements called tannins which tarnish enamel.
Included in this category are also fruit juices, sports drinks and certain soft drinks. They may discolour your teeth by either staining the enamel due to the colourants added or the high sugar content.
Sugar encourages bacteria to grow on tooth surfaces causing plaque formation, which makes the teeth appear yellow.
Carbonated soft drinks also change the pH of the mouth to promote bacterial growth and the acid wears down tooth enamel by making it more porous.
If you’re one of those people who cannot live without their favourite cup of tea or coffee, try to reduce the daily number of cups you have per day.
You can try drinking soda from a straw to minimise the contact with tooth surfaces. Please remember to use any eco-friendly alternative to plastic straws to save our planet and wildlife.
Also make it a habit to always drink plain water after you drink any of these “offending” beverages. This will help to rinse away any tannins or colourants that may have adhered to your teeth.
2. Certain foods also cause staining.
The general rule of thumb is: the more vibrant and colourful the food, the more likely it is to stain tooth enamel. This is due to the chromogens contained in those foods. They stick to tooth enamel leading to tooth discolouration. Examples here are fruits like berries and pomegranates, tomato sauces and curries, etc.
Certain foods may also be acidic and cause weakening of the tooth structure.
It would be sad and perhaps impractical to completely remove the healthy and delicious sauces and fruits from your diet just to save your teeth. Many of these foods are also rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which are great for fighting inflammation in the body and for keeping the body functioning at its best.
So rather make it a habit to clean your teeth thoroughly after eating. This can be by brushing or if this is not possible, chew some sugar-free gum to increase saliva in the mouth to wash away food particles and extra acid.
This is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to teeth staining. Cut down on the number of times you smoke per day, or even better- quit completely!
Smoking causes teeth stains and is bad for your general health. It promotes plaque and tartar build-up on teeth, gives you bad breath and may lead to a host of serious medical problems. There is no winner!
Tobacco contains tar and nicotine. Tar is naturally dark and nicotine, while colourless, actually turns yellow when in contact with oxygen in the air. The tooth enamel contains tiny pores. Over time, the tar and nicotine from the tobacco you smoke settle into these pores, making the enamel appear brown or yellow. These stains are very difficult to remove and often only respond to professional whitening.
Save your teeth AND your pocket by quitting smoking!
4. Avoid brushing too hard.
This may sound ironic because you’ve been conditioned to believe that brushing is very important to your oral hygiene.
You may think that the harder you scrub your teeth, the cleaner they become. But brushing like this, especially using a toothbrush with hard bristles, actually abrades the teeth surfaces. When tooth surfaces are worn down, the yellowish dentin beneath the enamel starts to become visible. This gives the teeth a yellowish tinge. You also succeeded in pushing back the gum line, exposing the softer part of the tooth structure that is more vulnerable to staining by food and drink.
Whilst brushing and flossing regularly are crucial to good oral health, use a toothbrush with soft bristles that clean gently without damaging the teeth and gums. Ensure you use the correct technique to clean the individual tooth surfaces.
Visit your dentist regularly so that he may pick up any issues such as receded gums or tooth erosion before they cause you pain.
5. Some toothpaste cause more harm than good.
There are some toothpastes available commercially that make some claims of superior cleaning. Be wary of these claims because they may actually cause damage and make the tooth more porous, thus absorbing stains easier.
Some of these “instant white teeth” products contain charcoal or baking soda and cause damage to the tooth structure due to their abrasive nature. They weaken the enamel.
There are also a few do-it-yourself solutions advocated by “experts” that you can make with household ingredients to make your teeth appear whiter. Be guarded when following these recipes. They usually contain ingredients that are acidic, and they will eat away at the enamel, creating more problems.
It is easy to keep your teeth pearly and bright by sticking to a few basic dental rules and avoiding or minimising certain elements.
The general rule is to consume certain foods and drinks in moderation and to always keep your mouth clean by brushing and flossing after eating or drinking.
Poor lifestyle habits, like smoking, should be stopped and learn the correct technique to clean your teeth effectively without causing damage.
Follow the tips as highlighted above and you will be assured of a bright sparkly smile for a very long time.
Dr Nabil Mockbil received his DDS in 2001 from Umea University in Sweden, regarded as having the best dentist programme in Sweden for undergraduates. He’s now the founder of Swedish Dental Clinic in Dubai.