It’s no secret that the majority of people would like to have whiter teeth. Your natural tooth color can dim as you age, leading to a less-than-stellar smile. Here, we take a closer look at why teeth stain and darken with age, as well as how you can keep your teeth white naturally through certain lifestyle habits, including the right oral care!

First, What Causes Teeth to Stain?

There are many factors that can cause teeth to stain. Typically, teeth staining is a result of multiple reasons than a singular cause.

As we age, it’s not uncommon for tooth enamel to be worn away, which can expose more dentin, the layer beneath tooth enamel. Dentin is softer and naturally more yellow than tooth enamel, and is more subject to staining.

Other causes of tooth enamel staining can be your diet, tobacco and alcohol use, trauma to the teeth, poor oral hygiene, dry mouth, and even certain medications.

For some people, maintaining an ultra-bright smile isn’t always possible without professional intervention. However, there are still some ways you can keep your teeth bright naturally!

Beware of Foods That Can Stain Teeth

Foods and drinks can cause teeth to discolor, especially over time. Many of the foods and drinks people consume that stain teeth are actually healthy for their oral health.

One of these foods includes berries, which are high in vitamin C. A popular drink that can cause teeth staining, green tea, has been show to help support gum health.

Other teeth-staining food culprits include coffee, wine, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and even tomato sauces or foods with turmeric, such as those that contain curry seasonings. The more you consume these items, the more stained your teeth are likely to be.

While avoiding these foods isn’t always an option or even beneficial, in some cases there are ways you can minimize their staining effect on teeth. For starters, be sure to stay hydrated and always drink water with your meal, so that food is less likely to stick to your teeth and cause tooth enamel damage. Secondly, you can eat crunchy vegetables with your meal as well these naturally contain higher water content and can help clean your teeth!

Consider Using a Straw

When drinking liquids that cause teeth staining or even tooth decay (think sugary drinks), using a straw can actually help the liquid to bypass the teeth to prevent these issues.

Although using a straw for every drink isn’t necessary or realistic you can consider using a straw for teeth-staining drinks such as iced tea or coffee, soda, and even darker fruit juices such as cherry, blueberry, or pomegranate juice.

When using a straw, consider using a reusable one such as a metal or even a bamboo straw they can be washed and reused, making them friendlier to the planet while you minimize damage to your teeth. Just be sure to avoid using straws after a wisdom tooth extraction, as they can disrupt the healing process and lead to painful dry socket.

Get Those Regular Dental Cleanings

Getting regular dental cleanings not only helps spot oral health problems early, but gives you a chance to remove plaque and tartar which can damage tooth enamel from those hard-to-reach areas in your smile.

During your dental cleaning, your dental hygienist will also polish your teeth, removing surface stains and allowing you to leave with brighter, healthier-looking teeth that same day.

Keeping up with professional teeth cleanings, generally twice a year or as recommended by your dentist, can help keep your smile naturally bright. Of course, if you decide you want to have your teeth professionally whitened, we can safely whiten your teeth in our Asheville dental office in as little as one hour!

Brush and Floss as Recommended

Yes, daily brushing and flossing goes a long way towards keeping your teeth bright. There’s no need to brush harshly choose a soft-bristled toothbrush with an American Dental Association (ADA)-approved toothpaste and gently but thoroughly clean your teeth twice a day.

To provide extra protection for your tooth enamel, always wait approximately one hour before brushing your teeth after eating. Tooth enamel can weaken when exposed to sugars to acids when we eat or drink, and brushing immediately after could contribute to tooth enamel damage and tooth sensitivity.

Flossing will also help keep your teeth clean, especially near the gumline and where two teeth touch together, which are popular places for plaque to build up.

Consider Using a Whitening Toothpaste

You may consider using a whitening toothpaste approved by the ADA to help keep your smile bright in-between your dental cleanings. However, be wary of toothpastes that can be too abrasive to the teeth, such as those that contain charcoal.

If you have any questions about which type of toothpaste is best for supporting the health and appearance of your smile, especially when it comes to whitening agents in certain products, don’t hesitate to ask your dentist in Asheville!

Eat Healthy

Diets high in sugar can not only contribute to tooth decay, but damage the tooth enamel as well, which could lead your teeth to have a duller or darker appearance.

Eating healthy including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables can actually help clean your teeth and maintain a healthy bacteria balance in the mouth, whereas added sugars and processed foods can stick to teeth and cause plaque formation.

Some great snacks to support whiter teeth include crunchy, whole foods such as apples, celery, and carrots. These foods are also fibrous and can stimulate saliva production for chewing, which can prevent dry mouth. Having healthy saliva production is another important component of preventing tooth decay and keeping your teeth healthy!

Schedule a Teeth Cleaning With Us!

Whether you’re interested in a teeth cleaning to keep your pearly whites bright or are interested in a more dramatic professional teeth whitening, we’re here to assist you at Saunders DDS. Give us a call at (828) 277-6060 to learn more about our professional teeth cleaning and whitening services, or request an appointment for a teeth cleaning and exam with us online!