Whether you’re looking forward to a social event or just want an improved smile, whitening can make your smile stand out. Even if you brush twice a day for two-minutes a brush, avoid smoking, and visit your dentist for annual cleanings, your love for blueberries or wine may leave your smile looking less than dazzling.
A professional tooth whitening is safe, easy, and rarely takes longer than an hour. But after you’ve invested in a whitening, you’ll want to know how you can protect your teeth from new stains.
Whether your dentist uses laser teeth whitening or chemical whitening techniques, you can undo your whitening treatment quickly with certain lifestyle habits and staining foods and drinks.
The following 8 tips will help you make your professional tooth whitening last and protect your teeth from future stains.
Avoid staining foods
Certain foods and drinks are known enemies of tooth whitening for their potent staining powers. Some of the most common offenders include:
- Red and white wine
- Tomato sauce
- Sugary foods and drinks
These foods and drinks are known for containing certain properties that break down tooth enamel and leave stains — the last thing you want after spending time and money on a professional whitening.
Eat foods that protect your teeth
There are some foods that are good for your oral health that can help you keep your teeth healthy and dazzling.
Crunchy fruits and vegetables that are packed with water, like celery and apples, help produce saliva when you chew them. Saliva helps neutralize acids that break down tooth enamel and leave your teeth more susceptible to stains.
Cheese is another great food for your teeth for similar reasons — chewing cheese helps increase saliva production, and cheese has calcium and phosphorus which helps keep your tooth enamel strong and resilient to decay and stains.
Brush after every meal
Although some foods and drinks can stain your teeth more intensely than others, most foods and drinks can undo the effects of your teeth whitening over time.
Brushing your teeth after every meal will help extend the life of your professional whitening. By brushing away food particles and bacteria, you’ll help keep your teeth healthy and strong, so they can fight off stains and decay.
Keep a toothbrush at work so you can brush after lunch or coffee. When you’re on the go and can’t brush after a meal or snack, swishing your mouth thoroughly with mouthwash can help wash away stain-causing bacteria.
Use a straw
Although you may not typically think to drink coffee, tea, or wine through a straw, it can help you enjoy some of your favorite drinks while avoiding stains.
Drinking through a straw can keep beverages from touching the outside of your teeth. You can use a straw to drink sodas and sports drinks too, which often have artificial coloring (and lots of sugar) — both of which can break down tooth enamel and stain your teeth.
For the best results, put the straw’s end at least halfway into your mouth to keep your drink from hitting the outside of your teeth.
In many cases, it only takes a few months of smoking for the nicotine and tar in cigarettes to stain your teeth yellow, with or without investing in a professional whitening.
After several years of heavy smoking, your teeth can even turn from yellow to brown.
Smoking poses more serious concerns than just stained teeth — smoking increases your risk of gum infections, gum disease, plaque, and even oral cancer.
So, if you want pearly whites and healthy teeth and gums, snub the cigarette.
Visit your dentist regularly
To maintain good oral health, you should visit your dentist for a cleaning and checkup at least once a year.
But if you’ve recently gotten your teeth professionally whitened, your dentist may recommend quarterly visits. More frequent visits give your dentist a chance to give you whitening touch-ups that will keep your teeth looking their best as time goes on.
Use at-home touch ups
To extend the life of your professional cleaning, you can use some at-home whitening products to do touch-ups when necessary. Whitening toothpaste, gels, touch-up pens and strips can all help your teeth keep bright.
Professional whitening and at-home whitening products are no substitute for dental cleanings. Be sure to visit your dentist at least once a year to keep your teeth looking great while maintaining your oral health.
Talk to your dentist about options that match your needs
Your teeth pick up stains for many different reasons, so talk to your dentist about why you’re interested in a professional whitening and what you can do at home to prevent future stains. Knowing what you should avoid will help keep your teeth looking their best between visits.
If you follow these 8 pieces of advice and listen to your dentist’s recommendations, you should find that you can keep your teeth looking their best between professional services.
Being aware of less well-known foods and drinks that can damage your teeth is another effective way to make your teeth whitening last.