People pay more attention to your smile than you may realize. In fact, 48 percent of participants in a study conducted on behalf of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry said that a smile was the first thing they noticed when meeting someone new. Unfortunately, you may not feel like smiling much if your teeth are yellow and stained. These tips and tricks will help you keep your teeth whiter and may even play a part in boosting your self-esteem.
What Causes Dull Teeth?
If you page through a childhood photo album, you'll probably notice that your teeth were noticeably whiter when you were younger. Aging can cause changes that dull teeth, but a few other factors may also affect tooth shade, including dental problems and the foods you eat.
Foods and beverages that contain dark pigments are a chief culprit in dull, stained teeth. When you eat or drink bright or dark foods, tiny pieces of the pigments that give the food or beverage its color become lodged in tiny pores in your tooth enamel. Enamel is the hard, outer, translucent layer of teeth that covers the sensitive dentin layer. Eventually, your teeth begin to look dull or yellow due to the accumulation of pigments.
Stains in your enamel can also occur if you regularly smoke cigarettes or cigars or chew tobacco. Nicotine and tar in tobacco products yellow teeth and may eventually turn them an unattractive shade of brown.
In some cases, dullness can be caused by changes that occur deep inside teeth. Injuries, use of the antibiotic tetracycline as a child or bleeding in a tooth can result in discolorations.
Tips and Strategies for a Whiter Smile
Making a few of these changes may help you keep your teeth whiter:
- Avoid or Limit Stain-Causing Foods and Beverages. Eliminating the foods and beverages that cause stains is one of the simplest ways to avoid dullness and yellowing. Foods and drinks that tend to stain teeth include coffee, tea, wine, cola, sports drinks, frozen treats, brightly colored candy, berries, and soy sauce.
- Use a Straw. Do you need that morning cup of coffee or tea to jump-start your day? If you can't give up darkly pigmented beverages, minimize their impact by drinking through a straw. The straw will deposit most of the liquid past your teeth, reducing staining.
- Don't Smoke. Smoking yellows your enamel, affects your sense of smell and taste, and increases your risk of oral cancer and gum disease. Smoking can also affect healing, which can complicate recovery after dental procedures and might prevent you from receiving a dental implant to replace a missing tooth.
- Brush Regularly. Regular brushing can reduce staining, although it won't prevent it entirely. Don't brush immediately after drinking soda or other acidic beverages, as brushing too soon will spread the acid throughout your mouth. Exposure to acids weakens your tooth enamel and increases your risk of tooth decay. Rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic beverages and wait 30 to 60 minutes to brush.
- Try a Whitening Toothpaste. Whitening toothpaste can be helpful, as long as you choose wisely when you shop. Some toothpastes contain abrasives that scrub away stains but weaken or damage your enamel. Safe whitening toothpastes feature the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance on the box.
- Visit the Dentist Regularly. Dental cleanings remove surface stains, helping you maintain your bright smile. Visiting the dentist every six months is an excellent way to protect your oral health and keep your smile as white as possible.
- Schedule a Teeth Whitening Session. Professional teeth whitening is the fastest way to whiten a dull smile. Your dentist uses whitening agents that contain hydrogen peroxide, a safe, natural bleaching compound. Hydrogen peroxide gel penetrates the tiny pores in your enamel that harbor stains and breaks apart the dark pigments. Whitening only takes about an hour and can keep your teeth whiter for two or three years or longer, provided you avoid stain-causing foods and beverages.
Are you tired of living with a dull smile? Why not call us to schedule a teeth whitening appointment?
Kelton: Smiling is the Best Way to Make a First Impression, 2/26/13
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