Discolored teeth is one of the major complaints heard by every dentist across America. Many causes of discoloration are extrinsic (meaning they come from a source outside of the body), while some are intrinsic (meaning that they are caused internally). However, with proper care and attention, many of these causes can be eradicated and can slow or even cease the yellowing process. Here are some ways to keep your pearly whites pearly and white:
Keep your teeth clean.
That means daily brushing. An electric toothbrush may be more effective if you don’t do a thorough job manually. But don’t get carried away; bearing down too hard when you brush or using a hard-bristled brush can create grooves in the teeth at their roots. You can brush with a light touch and still do a thorough cleaning job.
Ever notice how stained teeth look worse around the edges? That’s because the plaque (a thin, nearly invisible layer of bacteria and food debris) that accumulates between teeth and at the gum line attracts stains like a magnet. Limit plaque with flossing, and you’ll fight stains, too. Be sure to brush and floss every day to get rid of plaque, which attracts stains.
Much easier said than done, but if you won’t stop for your health, will you do it for a more attractive smile?
Be wise about beverages.
You know how coffee can stain a porcelain cup. It, along with tea and colas, does the same thing to your teeth. When you do indulge in staining beverages, do so in one or two sittings rather than sipping such drinks throughout the day. And brush after drinking them.
Use a straw.
Okay, you may not want to try this with hot coffee, but sipping iced tea, cola, and fruit juices through a plastic straw will reduce your teeth’s exposure to these staining beverages.
Use stain-removing toothpastes with caution.
So-called smokers’ toothpastes, designed to scrub away tobacco, coffee, and other stains on the teeth, are generally abrasive (unlike most of the newer “whitening” products, discussed in the next section) and should be avoided in all but the most serious cases of stained teeth. Even then, dentists usually recommend using these products no more than two or three times a week. You may want to check with your dentist before you try one of these.
Get a “cosmetic cleaning.”
If your teeth stain easily, call your dentist for a cosmetic cleaning between checkups. The procedure takes about 20 minutes. (It is not, however, meant to take the place of regular checkups.)
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