January 24, 2022

How to Whiten Your Teeth

woman smiling, text reads how to whiten your teeth

If you’re unhappy with the appearance of your smile, teeth whitening can be a quick and easy way to brighten your smile and boost your confidence. As you start thinking about teeth whitening, you’ll find that there are many options out there promising to deliver results. However, not all whitening treatments are alike. Some may not yield the results you want, while others may even cause harm to your teeth. Therefore, it’s always best to consult a dentist before you select a treatment. Continue reading for a closer look at the treatment options you’ll discuss along with some natural solutions for preventing tooth stains and improving your smile.

What causes yellowing teeth?

There are many factors that can contribute to yellowing teeth as well as tooth stains. To better understand how tooth yellowing occurs, it’s helpful to understand the structure of the teeth. The enamel is the hardest, outermost layer of the teeth. Beneath that is a layer of dentin, which is more porous than enamel and has a naturally yellow hue. Therefore, any wearing down of the tooth enamel caused by tooth decay can lead to yellowing teeth. Stains may also appear on the enamel itself. Certain foods can deposit pigments on the teeth, and the buildup of plaque on the surface of the teeth can also appear dull or yellow.

What can you do to whiten your teeth?

woman smiling, half her teeth are white, half are yellow

Because tooth decay is such a common contributor to tooth discoloration, one of the best steps you can take to whiten your teeth is to visit your dentist every six months for a preventive cleaning and exam. Here’s a look at more steps you can take to brighten your smile.

Ask Your Dentist About Professional Whitening Treatments

You’ll find lots of teeth whitening kits available in the dental care aisle of your local supermarket, but these simply cannot offer the results you’ll get from a professional teeth whitening treatment at your dentist’s office.

At-Home Whitening Kits

Get the same convenience you would expect from an over-the-counter whitening treatment with the strength and safety of a professional treatment from an at-home whitening kit prescribed by your dentist. These kits include whitening trays that help you apply chemical teeth whitener that will gradually improve the shade of your smile over a series of applications.

In-Office Teeth Whitening

For deeper treatment with more dramatic results, your dentist may recommend an in-office teeth whitening system. With in-office teeth whitening, a chemical agent is applied to the surfaces of the teeth and then activated with a special light. You’ll notice immediate results when you leave the dentist’s office following this treatment.

Choose the Right Foods

Whether you’ve just had a whitening treatment or you simply want to prevent tooth staining, it’s important to consider your diet. First, cut out sugary and starchy foods that will feed bacteria in your mouth and contribute to the development of plaque and tooth decay. To get your sugar fix, choose fresh fruits instead. Some fruits, like apples, will naturally scrub the teeth to leave your mouth feeling cleaner. There is also some evidence that fruits like pineapple and strawberries contain enzymes that remove stains from the tooth enamel. Along with fresh fruit, calcium-rich foods can be a boost for your smile. Foods like cheese, broccoli, soybeans, and fortified cereals are all high in calcium, which can prevent erosion of the tooth enamel.

Cut Back on Coffee, Tea, and Red Wine

cup of coffee

Beverages like coffee, black tea, soda, and red wine are not only likely to stain the teeth due to their heavy pigments, but they are also acidic, so they can wear away the tooth enamel. Limiting how much you drink these beverages can help you reduce staining. However, it may be hard to imagine a day without your morning cup of coffee or a glass of red wine to unwind after work. When you do enjoy coffee, wine, tea, or soda, drink water immediately afterwards. Drinking out of a straw can also help avoid prolonged contact with the teeth. If possible, brush your teeth 30 minutes after drinking any dark, acidic beverages.

Don’t Neglect Your Daily Dental Hygiene

While brushing and flossing will not do much to reverse existing tooth stains, these steps are essential for preventing discoloration in the teeth. Flossing is particularly important for removing plaque in the tight spaces between the teeth, so don’t neglect this component of your daily dental care routine.

Which at-home whitening treatments don’t work?

There are many different remedies that can help you whiten your teeth or at least prevent further discoloration. However, there are also some home remedies that don’t actually work and may even lead to damage.

Charcoal Toothpastes

You may see many different toothpastes containing activated charcoal, which is touted for benefits including whitening the teeth and removing toxins from the mouth. Unfortunately, there’s little evidence to support these claims, so it’s best to stick to your trusted fluoride toothpaste when you brush.

Fruit Peels

Have you heard that rubbing fruit peels—such as lemon and orange peels—on your teeth can brighten your smile? This remedy isn’t likely to do much to whiten your teeth, and it can actually lead to decay due to the acidity of the fruit rinds.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Just like fruit peels, apple cider vinegar is acidic, meaning that it can weaken the tooth enamel rather than whiten it. Avoid using apple cider vinegar as part of your dental hygiene routine and save it for your favorite salad dressing instead.

 

Whether you want to whiten your teeth, plan a full smile makeover, or simply schedule a dental checkup in Murray, UT, Cottonwood Family Dental is here to provide personalized care for your smile. Our compassionate team of providers works with patients of all ages, and we are pleased to offer a wide range of cosmetic dental treatments to bring out the best features in your smile. 

Call or text us at 801-262-4662 to schedule your first appointment with us—we offer complimentary consultations for all new patients. Alternatively, you can fill out the form on our contact page, and we will be in touch shortly.