We play the hand we are dealt. Some are born with naturally white teeth, some not so. How do we make best use of simple everyday dos and don’ts to keep our teeth looking their whitest?
1. Food and drink that stain teeth
Previously we spoke about certain foods to avoid after whitening your teeth. When applied to daily life in the absence of any tooth whitening treatment, these little pearls of wisdom still hold true. Coloured substances in these foods can penetrate grooves and pits in your enamel resulting in darker stains.
For all you caffeine addicts who may turn into the Hulk without your regular cup of Joe, a simple life hack would be to drink your cuppa through a straw instead, ensuring that all the staining liquid is deposited to the back of your teeth. This reduces their effect on the outer facing surfaces. Rinsing with plain water or even brushing after taking staining food and drink will also help to a certain extent.
2. Go overboard with mouth rinses
You know what they say about too much of a good thing. Certain mouthrinses containing antibacterial agents like Chlorhexidine gluconate and Cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) may be wonderful at keeping dental plaque and oral bacteria at bay, but prolonged and/or excessive use of mouthwash may result in staining of your teeth and tongue.
If unsure, do check with your dentist on the best approach for you.
3. Tobacco products
Aside from the obvious staining of tooth surfaces, long term use of tobacco products may also lead to nasty cancerous growths of the oral soft tissues.
The Singapore government has done a great job at affixing public health advisory photos to cigarette packets, and I think we can all agree that none of those images constitute a wonderful white smile!
1. Form a daily oral care habit
Find the time in your day for twice daily brushing and daily flossing. Rather than sticking to common convention, try to do this when most suitable for you.
This may not always be when most people would brush and floss e.g after meals or before bed, but quality is definitely better than quantity. Finding something you'll adhere to will ensure the best possible care for your teeth, as opposed to a rushed job in the morning before you scoot off to work.
2. Consider whitening toothpastes
We spoke in another article on teeth whitening myths about how whitening toothpastes act as effective mechanical cleansers in the removal of external stains. This can help to keep the outer surface of your teeth looking their cleanest, but be careful not to overdo it with whitening toothpaste.
As whitening toothpastes tend to be more abrasive, try alternating between them and a gentler regular toothpaste to give your enamel a little break every once in a while.
3. Visit your dentist regularly
This may sound like common sense to most, but you'll be surprised at how many Singaporeans neglect this. For most without special treatment needs, a 6 monthly visit to the dentist will help to ensure that any gaps in your daily home oral care will be covered.
Nobody is perfect, and there are areas that we tend to overlook when we brush and floss. Routine professional cleaning not only helps to remove stains that darken teeth but also prevents tooth decay, which would otherwise be an even greater detriment to the way your teeth look.
If you are still dissatisfied with the colour of your teeth after all the good home care, careful eating and lifestyle habits, you may want to ask your dentist about professional teeth whitening. Depending on the cause and nature of discolouration, the results of professional teeth whitening can sometimes be night and day!
Dr Huang Shiming is a dental surgeon at TP Dental. Before joining TP Dental Surgeons as an Associate, he also headed dental clinics in public institutions as Dental Officer-in-charge. Outside of dentistry, Dr Shiming is an avid car enthusiast, unashamed adrenaline junkie and photography hobbyist.