Watch any Hollywood awards show, and you’ll see celebrities flash their bright smile as they walk the red carpet. Did you ever wonder how they get their teeth so white? Even good genes don’t prevent tooth discoloration from the foods and beverages we drink and eat. Fortunately, you don’t have to be rich and famous to achieve a pearly white smile.
Why Teeth Become Discolored
If you don’t have super white teeth, you’re not alone. Many of us have varying degrees of discoloration that range from off-white to yellow to deeper golden hues. Yellow and gold may be on your color wheel, but not when it comes to your teeth. So, what causes those nice white teeth we have as kids to take on a darker tinge?
Even if you have healthy teeth, you’re not immune to tooth discoloration. There are several reasons your smile may not be as bright as it used to be. Some discoloration may just be due to genetics. Yep, blame it on your family. Genetics may play a role in the brightness and thickness of your tooth’s enamel, which in part determines if you have whitewashed teeth.
Aging is also one of the most common reasons some people experience tooth discoloration. Your teeth have a few different layers. The enamel is the outer layer. Under the enamel is an inner layer called dentin, which has a yellowish tint. As we age, the enamel may thin, which causes the dentin to show more and makes the teeth appear discolored.
Certain foods and drinks can also lead to discoloration. For example, red wine can stain your teeth. Unfortunately, white wine doesn’t reverse the discoloration. But seriously, many common foods and drinks can contribute to discolored teeth. In addition to wine, cola, blueberries, and tea can sabotage your bright smile.
In some cases, side effects from medication may be to blame for discolored teeth. Certain medications, such as high blood pressure drugs, can cause discoloration of the teeth. Trauma to the teeth can cause changes in the tooth’s structure, which also leads to discoloration.
One of the biggest culprits for yellow teeth is smoking. The chemicals in cigarettes, especially tar and nicotine, often lead to discoloration. The longer a person smokes, the worse the discoloration usually becomes.
What Can You Do About Discolored Teeth?
Whitening your teeth can cause an immediate positive change in your self-esteem and appearance. Having a bright smile helps you talk and laugh with confidence.
Pretty much everyone wants a nice white smile, but they may not know how to achieve it. The goods news is tooth whitening has never been easier. Over the counter whitening products, such as mouthwash, toothpaste and whitening strips are available to brighten your teeth.
Your best bet to get a whiter smile is at-home bleaching with custom-made bleaching trays and whitening products. The custom-made trays fit your mouth better than over the counter products. A better fitting tray makes the difference in your results. A custom-fitted tray helps ensure every angle of your teeth gets consistent coverage by the whitening product. Plus, the products dispensed through your dentist typically have a higher concentration of the bleaching agent, which means you get better results.
Keep in mind; no product can whiten your teeth several shades in only a few minutes. Chemically, the whitening agents cannot penetrate deep enough into the teeth to whiten teeth dramatically in a short time. For best results, tooth whitening should be done on consecutive days for a week or two or until the desired shade is reached.
Teeth whiteners are usually safe for most people. Some people may have some tooth or gum sensitivity. If tooth sensitivity occurs, try delaying whitening a few days. In most cases, tooth sensitivity is only temporary and usually disappears in a day.
Remember that tooth whitening does not work on bridges and crowns. Depending on the shade of discoloration, it may not be effective on all teeth. Talk to your dentist to determine what method of tooth whitening may be most effective for your situation. Always follow the instructions, since the overuse of whiteners may harm the tooth enamel.
Keeping Your Pearly Whites Bright
Once your teeth are pearly white, you want to keep them that way. Although certain factors that contribute to tooth discoloration, such as age and genetics, are uncontrollable, you can still do several things to keep your teeth looking good. Consider the following suggestions to keep your smile bright:
Stop smoking: If you smoke, you probably already know that it is bad for your overall health. It is also bad for your teeth. Smoking cessation programs, medications, and nicotine patches are available to help smokers break the habit.
Keep diet in mind: Once your teeth are whitened, they can become discolored again depending on your eating and drinking habits. If you want to keep your teeth white, consider the foods and beverages you eat and drink. Consider limiting certain things that stain the teeth, such as coffee, tea, and cola.
Use a straw: When you’re drinking certain beverages, such as cola or coffee drinks, using a draw limits the amount of contact the stain causing dyes have with your teeth.
Practice good oral hygiene: One of the best ways to keep your teeth white naturally is by practicing good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Have regular checkups and get your teeth professionally cleaned as recommended by your dentist.
Consider touchups: You can’t expect to whiten your teeth once and have it last a lifetime. To maintain a bright smile, you may have to use tooth whitening products periodically. How often you have to do a touchup depends on lifestyle factors, such as the foods and drinks you consume and whether or not you smoke. Talk to your dentist to make sure you are not using whitening products too often.
Use an ADA approved whitening toothpaste: To maintain your bright smile between touchups, consider using a whitening toothpaste. To be sure the toothpaste is approved by the American Dental Association, look for the ADA seal on the package.