Safe ways to whiten teeth

Every day, your teeth endure a multitude of substances thrown their way and we can often carry ourselves through the day without giving a single thought to the repercussions of our oral habits. Nevertheless, in the appearance-driven society that we live in, the yellowing of teeth is one complication of oral hygiene that is often undesired. To understand how to prevent and reverse the effects of yellowing teeth, we must firstly acknowledge the causes of this complication. Our teeth are covered in a layer of enamel; beneath this enamel is a deep yellow-brown material called dentin. If the enamel is thin, the dentin beneath can become more visible and thus your teeth appear yellow. Enamel thins as an individual ages therefore teeth will tend to become more yellow with age. One of the underlying causes of yellow teeth is sadly something out of our control, genetics. Genetic defects can cause imperfect development of teeth and discoloration. However apart from this, yellowing is often due to surface stains rather than thin enamel. The main culprits of these stains are our own indulgences: foods, drinks and smoking.

There are several different methods of teeth whitening that can be used according to a person’s preferences. For less serious staining, many choose to use natural home remedies. This includes practices such as “oil pulling” which entails swishing a teaspoon of coconut oil around your mouth for 5-20 minutes after brushing your teeth. New studied have shown that there is a real basis behind this method as it has been shown to reduce formation of plaque. Another food item that can help you regain your pearly whites is, surprisingly, strawberries. Due to their acid content, strawberries can help remove surface stains on enamel. To benefit from this, you can mash up a strawberry and use a tooth brush to brush your teeth using the fruit. It is good practice to thoroughly rinse your mouth afterwards with a dash of baking soda to decrease the acidity in your mouth.

For those looking for a quicker and more decisive process, professional teeth whitening is also an option. By booking an appointment with your dentist, you can find out if teeth whitening is suitable for you (it may not be if you have complications such as gum disease or crowns). Professional teeth whitening can only be carried out by a dental professional. Therefore, it is important to ensure that if you go to a salon for this procedure, that the salon employs a registered dental profession for this treatment. Side effects of the treatment include teeth sensitivity however this should be temporary. Aside from professional whitening, teeth whitening kits and strips can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies and the like. These vary in effectiveness depending on the amount of whitening agent they contain so it may be of use to ask your dentist for advice before trying home treatments.

Despite all these mediums, the best combat against the staining of teeth is prevention (if possible). A vital part of your daily routine should be thoroughly brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day. Consumption of sugary and acidic food and drink (such as sweets, berries, citrus fruits, tea, coffee and wine etc.) should be limited and if you are a smoker, this is yet another reason to kick the habit.

Author: Hamna Iqbal