When you speak or smile, you want people to see your entire face — not just focus on your teeth. Teeth whitening is one of the easiest ways to boost confidence in your smile! While you can certainly receive teeth whitening services from your dentist, there are many actions you can take in your daily life to whiten your teeth and maintain that pearly white smile even after professional teeth whitening.
Fight Food Stains with Food
As humans, we consume food and beverages throughout the day, which provides many opportunities for our teeth to become stained or to maintain their brightness. Whiten teeth faster by becoming more mindful of your diet!
You may be familiar with some food and drinks that can stain your teeth, but some may surprise you. Consider avoiding these foods if you are trying to prevent stains on your teeth:
- White or red wines
- Black and green tea
- Blackberries and blueberries
- Foods high in sugar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Marinara sauce
- Barbecue sauce
While these stains can be whitened away, you can also prevent them from getting worse. Be sure to rinse your mouth with water up to 30 minutes after having any of these foods or drinks to wash away any remaining particles that are likely to cause stains. It may surprise you, but brushing your teeth immediately after consuming stain-prone foods and beverages can actually increase the likelihood of stains. Therefore, try to rinse with water immediately after while maintaining your usual brushing schedule.
Foods that can help you fight stains in order to achieve whiter teeth include:
- Milk, cheese, and yogurt (to increase calcium and strengthen enamel)
- Strawberries (to remove stains with malic acid)
- Apples (to increase saliva and boost gum health)
- Raw onions (to deter plaque with sulfur)
- Nuts, carrots, broccoli, and celery (to scrub away stains)
Aside from food, smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products cause your teeth to yellow and stain very quickly. Do your teeth and your overall health a favor by quitting smoking!
Benefits of Brushing and Flossing
Another essential component to keeping your teeth white is to maintain proper oral hygiene. This includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once before bed. See our previous blog post about the importance of flossing to learn proper flossing techniques!
Protect your gums by using soft bristles for your toothbrush. Unhealthy gums can lead to gingivitis and a less-than-ideal smile. Additionally, consider improving your oral hygiene routine with an electric toothbrush, as it has more power to clean away surface stains on your teeth. Whitening toothpastes, while effective, take a little longer to whiten teeth than other methods like whitening strips or gel trays. However, they are a much more easily accessible and affordable option.
The Dangers of DIY
Aside from improving your diet and oral hygiene, many people attempt at-home and DIY teeth whitening methods. These methods can be effective if done properly, but they also pose many potential risks and dangers without the supervision of a professional.
At-home and DIY teeth whitening methods you should be careful with include:
- Whitening Strips — While whitening strips are easy to apply and work quickly, they still contain potentially harmful chemicals. Strips that contain chlorine dioxide can erode your tooth enamel if left on your teeth for too long. You may experience increased tooth sensitivity after using whitening strips, and they may not always reach your gum line — meaning your teeth many not end up completely white.
- Whitening Gel Trays — Similar to whitening strips, teeth whitening gel trays also contain chemicals that can potentially be harmful to your dental health. They are applied by either inserting the gels into a tray fit for your teeth or by brushing them on directly.
- Activated Charcoal — Dentists don’t generally recommend brushing with activated charcoal, as it is very abrasive to your teeth and gums, which can cause more harm than good. However, it is possible to make a paste with water and turn it into a teeth mask, which is much less rough. Be sure to only leave the mask on for three minutes before rinsing it off with water.
- Lemon and Apple Cider Vinegar — While you can effectively brush your teeth with a blend of lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, there are limits to this DIY teeth whitening method. This method can only be used once a week at most in order to protect your enamel from its acidity.
- Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide — One relatively safe method for teeth whitening is brushing your teeth with a mixture of two tablespoons of baking soda and one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide. This mix works by gently lightening your stains and scrubbing them away. However, hydrogen peroxide can still potentially damage your teeth if the solution is too strong, is in contact with your teeth for too long, or if it used more than once a day.
How Your Dentist Can Help Whiten Your Teeth
The safest and most effective way to whiten your teeth is to see you dentist for professional teeth whitening. While this can cost a little more than over-the-counter or DIY methods, you can rest easier knowing that your teeth whitening will be done properly, safely and effectively.
You can expect your in-office teeth whitening appointment to take anywhere from 60-90 minutes. Your dentist will note the current shade of your teeth and remove plaque. Then, your mouth and gums will be isolated and protected so that the teeth whitening agents do not affect them. Finally, your dentist will whiten your teeth by applying the whitening solution, using a laser or curing light to activate the peroxide in the solution, leaving the solution on for the appropriate amount of time, and by finally rinsing off your teeth. It’s also likely your dentist will opt to provide you with a fluoride application to combat any sensitivity from the treatment. If needed, your dentist will help you schedule additional appointments.
Your dentist may alternatively be able to provide you with professional at-home teeth whitening kits that you can only get from your dentist. To get an at-home kit, you will need to have custom trays based on an impression of your teeth. This is a great option for safe, professional teeth whitening treatments that are more affordable.
Chicago Teeth Whitening
Achieve the whiter, brighter teeth you have always dreamed of with NK Family Dental in Chicago. Our professional teeth whitening services bring instant results that are sure to boost your confidence in your smile. Contact us today to schedule your teeth whitening appointment!