In a world of increasing celebrity endorsements and compelling ad campaigns telling us that we need whiter teeth, how do achieve this without damaging our pearly whites? Recent reports from the British Dental Association (BDA) and the British Dental Bleaching Association (BDBA) have warned consumers of the dangers of over the counter, do it at home, teeth whitening kits. They conclude that many are either ineffective – and therefore a waste of money – due to low levels of hydrogen peroxide or contain harmful chemicals, such as sodium chlorite, that have been proven to weaken enamel and increase teeth sensitivity. In the light of this, how do we brighten our smiles without damaging the key components?
First and foremost, you need to consider what you are eating and drinking. Dr. Coyle, Clinical Director of BUPA Dental, says that things like tea, coffee, and red wine are the usual culprits of turning our teeth into that dreaded shade of yellow. Further to this, foods and drinks containing food dyes are renowned for speeding up the negative staining process. However, above all else, the worst thing of all for your white teeth is cigarettes. Apart from giving the tobacco a rest, or if you don’t smoke, what can you do if you really love a coffee in the morning or that glass of red in the evening? Dr. Coyle believes there is ‘logic in the argument for drinking these beverages through a straw’, however, this is not entirely fool-proof and is not as effective as reducing overall consumption.
While it is possible to maintain white teeth through the monitoring of what you put in, you can also maintain that natural whiteness through effective cleansing. Much like the straw theory, you want to make sure that staining food and drink has the shortest contact time as possible with your teeth. While it is not feasible to brush your teeth continuously throughout the day, maintaining healthy habits of brushing thoroughly – preferably with an electric toothbrush – and flossing both morning and night will certainly reduce the risk of loosing your naturally white teeth.
While this advice should be useful for those with currently white teeth, what about those that are unfortunate to have gone down the road of stained yellowness? Charcoal or sodium bicarbonate soda could be your answer. Using food grade activated charcoal powder as a precursor to toothpaste has been suggested to improve stain removal, as has mixing baking powder with your toothpaste. One important point to consider though: these are considered to be stain removers, not whitening products. Unfortunately, if you are looking to actively whiten your teeth, then there is no substitute to bleaching chemicals like hydrogen peroxide.
So, in order to maintain your naturally white smile, you have to be careful of what you put in your mouth and how you care for your teeth. For those who are concerned with not being able to achieve whiter teeth: according to the NHS website, teeth come in all shades and how yellow they does not mean they are unhealthy. However, if this fact does not make you feel less socially conscious of your teeth then please consider consulting your dentist before buying the next bleaching product you can find. While teeth whitening products are made by companies that are looking to take your money, dentists have your teeth health as their primary concern.