Having healthy-looking white teeth can have a big impact on your smile, your confidence, and your appearance in general. Stained teeth, on the other side, are a common problem brought on by different factors from diet and general health to simply aging.
It’s been shown in studies that a large percentage of people crave a dazzling smile, and it’s no surprise that teeth whitening is one of the most popular and widely available cosmetic treatments out there. But there are many ways to reduce stains and whiten teeth, some of which you can even do yourself – though take care when doing it at home, as overusing some methods can strip your tooth enamel and leave you prone to cavities or decay.
That said, let’s look at some of the ways you can whiten your teeth today.
Brush your teeth (properly)
It may sound obvious, but brushing your teeth regularly and properly is the first line of defense against discolored teeth. It’s especially important to brush after you’ve eaten sugary food or drink sodas, or after you’ve consumed some of the beverages that directly cause stains, such as red wine, coffee, or tea.
Also, pay attention to technique. You’d be surprised to know how many people don’t brush their teeth effectively. You should brush twice a day (or more), for at least two minutes. Brush gently, making circles, and being sure to get in the cracks between your teeth. Circular brushing is gentler on the gums than up-down. You can also use an electric toothbrush – they are much more efficient and dentists recommend them.
Just be careful not to brush too soon after eating acidic foods – the acids can remove enamel and cause erosion. In the end, whitening toothpastes are available, most of which can be used regularly without damage to the enamel.
Sometimes it’s best to leave it to the pros, right? Teeth whitening services do cost a bit, but the results are excellent, and the process is quick.
Most companies offer in-office whitening – the process is carried out by a dentist and involves applying the product to your teeth and then exposing them to a light source or laser. You’ll usually see great results after just one session, but the dentist will usually recommend a series of them to gain optimum whiteness.
Sometimes a professional service, sometimes over the counter – but usually well worth the investment – tray-based whitening involves making a mold of your teeth into a gum shield-like guard. This is filled with a gel whitening solution that contains a peroxide-bleaching agent, then it is worn over a period of time – usually overnight. It can take several days to whiten satisfactorily, depending on the level of discoloration at the outset of treatment.
These can be purchased from pharmacies, but a dentist can provide a more accurate mold that prevents the whitening agent from coming into contact with your gums (which can lead to irritation).
It’s been shown that charcoal can be an effective way to remove stains from your teeth. Activated charcoal is highly absorbent and also gets rid of toxins and bacteria from your mouth.
There are kinds of toothpaste available which contain activated charcoal, and usually, these are gentle enough to use regularly, though you should check the label.
You can also put charcoal on your toothbrush and apply it to your teeth, leaving it on for two minutes to absorb matter. It can also be mixed with mouthwash and used normally.
Pay attention: charcoal can be abrasive to teeth, so it’s important not to overuse it – taking off enamel can cause teeth to yellow further.
Many toothpastes already use baking soda, as it has natural teeth whitening properties. Its natural mild abrasiveness makes it effective at removing stains, and it creates an alkaline environment in the mouth that combats bacteria caused by eating acidic food, or acid reflux from the stomach.
Baking soda is available at any grocery store – once you have it, you should mix it with a little water until it makes a paste, and then brush your teeth with it.
Believe it or not, powdered milk mixed with toothpaste has proven to be an effective means of whitening teeth.
Milk is full of calcium and minerals, which are good for teeth and reducing bacteria in the mouth. Mix a little powdered milk with a normal amount of toothpaste and brush normally – you can repeat this over a number of days, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Apple cider vinegar
A natural disinfectant, cheap and widely available, apple cider vinegar can be used to whiten teeth. It’s best to use it as a mouthwash, diluted with water, and swished around in the mouth for a few minutes. But remember – using apple cider vinegar too often can lead to erosion of the teeth, so to avoid this, use it once a month only.
Teeth change color gradually – it’s inevitable that there will be some discoloration over time. But a good diet coupled with proper brushing and one or more of these options should leave you with a dazzling smile to be proud of.