Have you noticed that your pearly white teeth are no longer what they used to be? Teeth-yellowing is a normal side-effect of aging and the wear and tear of everyday life. The food and drinks we consume are the biggest factor behind the harmless, yet visually unappealing phenomenon. Aging naturally brings with it a decay of the outer layer of tooth enamel. The layer beneath it, called dentin, is yellower.
The good news is that there are many professional – as well as home – remedies for teeth staining. Each type of treatment is different. Do-it-yourself whiteners use mild bleach, toothpastes use abrasives and chemicals and dentist’s solutions range from bleach to lasers.
Be careful with the whitening products you use if you have veneers, crowns, fillings or any other dental construction in your mouth – it’s best to consult your dentist first. If you have artificial teeth in your mouth, any whitening of your natural teeth could leave them looking different and strange. Over-whitening can also prove a mistake, leaving your teeth translucent or blue-tinted.
1. Home tooth-whitening kits usually contain carbamide peroxide, a type of bleach that is very effective at whitening stains but also can change a tooth’s own color. This type of treatment might be best for coffee-stained teeth. Depending on the kit, the bleach comes in gel form and can be either applied to the teeth with a wand, or used inside molds, which sit on the teeth like a mouth-guard, for a number of minutes daily.
2. Tooth-whitening strips are similar to gel DIY kits, except a bit simpler to use. The strips contain the same bleach gel, but in thin, invisible, easy-to-apply strips, which should be worn on the teeth every day for a short period of time.
3. Home remedies for teeth whitening are few but popular. Many people still use the old method of brushing with baking soda on their toothbrush for a whitening effect.
Just as good as, if not better than, whitening is prevention of stains in the first place. Staining can be caused by a number of things.
1. Smoking is one of the worst enemies of white teeth. The tobacco in cigarettes leaves behind brown stains that penetrate deep into tooth enamel that are particularly hard to remove. Smoking also leads to gum disease and is generally not healthy. Don’t do it.
2. Many beverages cause tooth discoloration. Basically any drink of color can do it; tea, soda and coffee are the worst offenders. Wine, cranberry and grape juices, despite whatever health benefits they might have, stain teeth. Although you might not see staining if you drink a glass of wine once in a while, if and when it’s part of a daily routine, with time, discoloration can become obvious. The best method to preventing these stains is to always rinse your mouth after drinking a dark-colored beverage.
3. Like juice, fresh berries and vegetables such as cranberries, blueberries and beets can discolor teeth.
4. Certain medicines have a negative effect on tooth color. Antibiotics like tetracycline, chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium can all stain teeth.
The best weapons against tooth discoloration are scheduled visits to the dentist and daily brushing with a quality toothpaste. Brush in the morning, evening and after meals. Modern electronic and sonic toothbrushes make the process even easier and foolproof.