Whitening teeth is one of the most common cosmetic dental procedures and for good reason. People often associate a brighter smile with a healthy mouth, and dentists are happy to help bring a pearly sheen to your family photos. You don’t need to rely on dental appointments or over-the-counter options to put a sparkle in your smile. Here are five foods that can whiten your teeth while also adding healthy options to your diet.
No one should feel they have to keep their smile a secret. Using a variety of treatments from whitening teeth to repairing damaged dentition, we at Meredith Davis, DDS have the tools to help give your mouth a whale new look. If you are located in the Richardson, TX area and are interested in our teeth whitening services or other treatment options, call us to schedule a consultation today!
One of the most common misconceptions people have is that whiter teeth are healthier. In truth, there are a variety of factors that contribute to tooth color. Genetics are a significant factor in tooth development, and some people just have a naturally brighter smile. As time passes, there are several reasons that contribute to an overall yellowing that do not always coincide with an unhealthy mouth, including:
- Medication/Illness: Changes within the body can contribute to a change in tooth coloring, especially if the patient has undergone an illness or takes medications such as antihistamines or antibiotics.
- Diet: Staining can occur based on the foods we eat. Coffee drinkers may take excellent care of their teeth and gums, but years of their favorite brew may still lead to discoloration.
- Aging: Dentition wears down as we age, and as enamel thins, it can expose the yellowish dentin layer underneath.
- Smoking: Not only does nicotine stain teeth, but it also doesn’t contribute to a healthy mouth, either!
- Poor Oral Care: Patients that lack good hygiene habits are leaving their teeth open to discoloration from plaque buildup and decay.
Even though the color of teeth doesn’t necessarily indicate oral health, people still gravitate towards the luster of a brighter, whiter smile. Having an attractive grin is important for many of our patients as it helps to boost confidence and make a great first impression. It is also an excellent choice for those looking to make a dramatic change to their looks without the expense of plastic surgery or other more invasive options.
Before looking at natural remedies for tooth discoloration, it’s important to understand the different ways dentists offer their patients a whiter smile. The most important aspect to these procedures is preserving the integrity of your teeth. Some over-the-counter options remove stains by stripping enamel from otherwise healthy teeth. This can leave your mouth vulnerable to cavities and may make it easier for staining to occur later on!
The most common method used in professional whitening involves peroxides. These compounds are made of particularly volatile oxygen ions that bond with stains and lift them away from enamel. Combined with fluorides to strengthen teeth during the process, these procedures whiten or “bleach” teeth to improve the look of your smile. Some at-home remedies work in a similar way, though they tend to be less effective than treatments given by your dentist.
Some dentists use LEDs or UV lights in conjunction with peroxides. These lights help to stimulate the chemical reaction that occurs within the enamel. Because reactions happen more quickly, you need less time in the dentist's chair to get great stain-removing results. Your dentist will help determine if these procedures are the best fit with the dental issues you may be facing.
Peroxides aren’t the only way people can remove stains from detention. Just by eating certain types of foods, you can help to bring back a pearly luster to your teeth. Some of these foods contain compounds that can eat away at discoloration, while others stimulate your body's own natural defenses against plaque buildup and staining.
An apple a day is said to keep the doctor away, and your dentist will appreciate your healthy choice too. An apple has a rough texture that helps to scrub your teeth as you chew. While not a replacement for your faithful flossers and toothbrushes, it does help to remove food particles that can cling onto and in between teeth after mealtimes. They also contain malic acid which stimulates saliva production, too.
Some people think that the sticky-sweet texture of raisins makes them a poor choice for your breakfast bowl. In actuality, studies have shown that cereals containing raisins actually help to clean teeth better than those without them. The extra chewing stimulates saliva that will eat away at bacteria that help develop stains, plaque and cavities. They also help to neutralize acids other foods may leave lingering in your mouth.
Doctors have been promoting dairy to build strong bones for decades, and the same goes for your teeth. By depositing essential minerals such as proteins, calcium and phosphorus, eating cheese boosts tooth integrity. Chewing on harder varieties works to scrub teeth as well.
This tropical treat is the only food source for bromelain, a natural substance that acts as an anti-inflammatory and cleanser. Toothpastes with added bromelain have been found to be much more effective at lifting stains when compared to alternatives. Though the compound is primarily found in the stems of pineapples, it is also infused throughout the fruit.
These berries, like apples, contain high amounts of malic acid. By stimulating saliva production it helps to break stains away from enamel. Strawberries also contain antioxidants and Vitamin C that help reduce inflammation and stave off periodontal disease.
Another way you can help to naturally brighten your teeth is to increase your water intake. The simple act of drinking a cool, refreshing glass washes away food particles and loose plaque stuck between and onto teeth. It is always a good idea to drink some water after a meal to help keep your mouth looking and feeling fresh.
Foods to Avoid
Just as some foods work especially well for maintaining a clean smile, others are especially bad options that will actually cause damage if overindulged. Snacking on these options may not only stain your teeth but can also contribute to periodontitis, breakage and tooth decay. Some of the worst foods for your oral health include:
- Oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits with high acidity
- Coffee, wine and tea that can stain
- Potato chips and starchy snacks
- Caramels and other gummy candies
- Ice, popcorn, cold raw vegetables and hard foods
Sugars and acids are some of the worst enemies of good oral health. Staying away from foods high in these substances as well as keeping up with brushing, flossing, and biannual dental checkups will help keep your smile looking great!
Other Ways to Whiten
Eating the right foods isn’t the only way to help give your teeth a beautifying boost. Baking soda has been a tried-and-true method for at-home whitening that has even made its way into toothpaste. Rinsing with hydrogen peroxide is another great option, though it won’t be as effective as treatments available in professional offices.
The most effective way to ensure your teeth look their best is to make an appointment with a whitening professional. A qualified dentist will have all of the tools on hand to safely and effectively whiten your teeth in a fraction of the time compared to other natural and over-the-counter remedies. A dentist will not only be able to offer you the most effective stain-removing solutions, but they may also find other issues that may only get worse with time. Combining home-based solutions with professional treatments is an excellent path to restoring your pearly whites!
Whether you’re finishing professional treatments or are working with at-home remedies, it’s just as important to maintain your oral hygiene to keep your teeth looking and feeling their best. While whiter teeth may give your mouth a healthier appearance, overlooking daily brushing and flossing may mean you’ve wasted all your hard work. Just because they look clean, it doesn’t mean that your teeth are safe from plaque and decay!
As a quick refresher for the basics, remember to brush at least twice a day and floss daily. Spending about two minutes each session with fluoride toothpaste and a clean brush will go a long way to maintaining that stunning smile. Try not to brush immediately after having acidic foods to avoid spreading that acidity around your teeth and gums. You should also replace toothbrushes, and brush heads for electric varieties, every three months.
Whiter Teeth With Meredith Davis, DDS
Don’t let dental discoloration create a barrier between you and your social and professional dreams. Taking steps to renew your smile at home is a great start towards a more confident you. To learn more about brightening your teeth at home and professionally, call us. Let us help give you a brighter smile that brings your self-image to a whole new level!