Solutions for a Stained Smile

Your smile can say so much about you, and brightening your teeth can improve that smile dramatically. One of the most common questions I get asked is: How can I get whiter teeth? There are many ways to enhance and freshen your smile. But there are also many ways to stop your teeth from becoming yellow in the first place. Sure, normal wear and tear can stain your teeth, but certain foods and bad habits speed up the process.

Posted on | Alex Naini, DDS, LVIF, FAGD | Comments ()

Your smile can say so much about you, and brightening your teeth can improve that smile dramatically. One of the most common questions I get asked is: How can I get whiter teeth?
 
There are many ways to enhance and freshen your smile. But there are also many ways to stop your teeth from becoming yellow in the first place. Sure, normal wear and tear can stain your teeth, but certain foods and bad habits speed up the process.

For example, my friend Sam is one of the most eligible bachelors in DC. He’s nice, handsome and successful. He even used to model in national ad campaigns! His charm, charisma and boy-next-door appeal win him the hearts of women, children and puppies. He even commands bro-love from other men. But he rarely smiles in pictures. Why? Because he doesn’t like his teeth.

When Sam first walked into my office, he’d been my friend for over a year – but I had never noticed that he didn’t smile much. When he opened his mouth, I was surprised that such a handsome man would let his teeth get so brown. Then I realized that many people don’t know what can damage and stain your smile.

There are many ways to prevent the need for veneers and whitening well into your 40s and 50s. Certain foods, for example, can stain your teeth. It is widely known that coffee and tea (even green tea) can really darken your smile. Think about when you leave coffee in a mug for a period of time. It creates a brown stain in your cup that sometimes won’t come off with washing. Now, what if you rinse that cup immediately? It won’t stain. The same thing is true with your teeth. As long as you don’t let the staining food or drink sit on your teeth, you should be safe. Wash it out by drinking water immediately after you eat or drink a staining food.

Here are a few foods and habits that can easily darken your pearly whites:

1. Coffee
2. Tea
3. Red wine
4. Dark sodas
5. Smoking and smokeless tobacco
6. Dark berries

Here are some easy, inexpensive home remedies in case you can’t give up those habits:

1. Rinse your mouth with water immediately after having the staining food or drink.
2. Chew gum afterwards to let your saliva rinse your mouth out.
3. Use over-the-counter whitening rinses.
4. Try whitening strips.
5. Gently brush or rinse with baking soda or hydrogen peroxide.
6. Floss regularly or use floss with whitening treatments.

You can always have your teeth professionally whitened by your dentist and then maintain your pearly whites by following the above steps. In addition, I highly recommend giving up smoking, smokeless tobacco and soda, which can lead to other dental problems as well as stains.

Meanwhile, after his cleaning and whitening, Sam has promised to give up his bad habits and let his smile match the rest of his good looks. He’s chewing sugarless gum and rinsing with water frequently to keep his now-fresh smile prince-charming white.

Blog written by Alex Naini, DDS, LVIF, FAGD
Dr. Alex Naini received her DDS degree from the University of Maryland Dental School. She completed her general practice...