Tips to keep your teeth white

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
February 6, 2008 3:44:44 PM PST
Professional teeth whitening treatments can be expensive, and it can leave your gums sensitive. But you may not need fancy products. A change in diet could brighten your smile.Seven's on Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg.

Most dentists will tell you that one of the reasons your teeth are the color they are has to do with your genetics, as well as your health habits. And by habits, in this case, are the materials that come in contact with your teeth.

If you're looking to brighten your smile, there is no lack of methods and materials to help you do it. Expensive whitening can be done at the dentists' office. And there are also the home products, less expensive, but maybe not as effective.

But there is something more basic: some dental experts are suggesting you might first start with what you eat and drink.

"Beverages like coffee, tea, red wine, dark syrupy sodas tend to stain your teeth pretty quickly," Dr. Ada Cooper said.

Brushing your teeth immediately after a cup of coffee or red wine is one way to minimize staining.

It may not always be practical, but Dr. Ada Cooper recommends another simple way.

"Sometimes drinking through a straw allows that beverage to go right back into your throat, bypassing your teeth altogether," Dr. Cooper said.

The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry touts eating raw vegetables as a natural way to whiten teeth, but some healthy foods can have the opposite effect.

"Food sometimes like blueberries, raspberries, things that would stain a white shirt, often tend to stain your teeth pretty quickly as well," Dr. Cooper said.

Dr. Cooper says many patients don't need expensive whitening procedures to remove some food stains.

Those types of surface stains can sometimes be removed just by using whitening toothpaste.

She cautions patients against trying to brighten their teeth by using pure baking soda, which is a mild abrasive, or lemon, which can erode enamel.

You are what you eat, you know that old expression. But it's true if what you eat or drink discolors your teeth.

Not everyone can have perfectly white teeth. That is basically because of genetics. But dentists say there are some things you can do to keep your teeth as bright as possible.

Many companies make whitening toothpastes. Because they tend to be abrasive in order to scrub off stains, they can be irritating to sensitive teeth. Check with your dentist if you develop achy teeth from any whitening product.

For other ways to keep your smile white and healthy, check the links below: