Many foods and some lifestyle choices contribute to the deterioration of your smile. Delicious foods such as pasta sauce, berries, curry, and wine can slowly discolor your teeth over time. Smoking is another culprit for yellowing your smile and daily coffee drinkers know the challenge of maintaining pearly whites.
Do you love your coffee, but don’t want yellow and brown stains on your teeth. There are many solutions such as whitening strips, mouthwashes, the right toothpaste, and professional care to assist you in maintaining healthy happy teeth so you can have your coffee and enjoy it too.
Knowing more about the structure of your teeth, how to strategically plan your coffee drinking, using home remedies as well as seeking professional help can all impact your beautiful smile.
Composition of A Tooth
The outer layer of the tooth is covered in enamel. Consisting of 95% minerals, mostly phosphorus and calcium, enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. Designed to protect the tooth from decay, enamel is approximately 2.5 mm thick and typically appears light yellow to greyish blue and white.
Although our teeth feel flat and smooth, they are actually covered with tiny ridges. Beverages with dark pigments such as coffee, cola, and wine can leave a residue that can remain in the crevices of the tooth’s surface if not cleaned and cared for on a regular basis. The longer the stains build in the ridges of the enamel the more difficult it is to remove the stains.
Maintaining healthy enamel through regular brushing and professional cleanings is key is a healthy smile. Tooth enamel can be damaged and wear away over the course of one’s life. Unlike fingernails, once enamel is destroyed your body does not produce more to replace it. Foods high in sugar and acid can damage the tooth enamel.
Hard candy can also be damaging to enamel. Eating candy or ice cubes can actually crack and damage the tooth enamel. Avoiding certain foods and beverages is recommended. If you want to have candy or ice, for example, you could choose to suck on them versus chewing them to better care for your teeth.
The next layer of the tooth under the enamel is referred to as dentin. Dentin is naturally yellowish in color. If the enamel wears away and dentin is exposed, teeth can appear more yellow. Understanding the complexity of the anatomy of the tooth can help you understand how to care for your smile.
Home Care and Self Remedies for Whiter Teeth
Everyone wants a healthy white smile. Your smile is your greeting to the world and can give you confidence or unfortunately, lack of confidence if it’s all brown and yellowed. Luckily, there is much one can do to prevent, reduce, and remove coffee stains (and other stains) from teeth. Here are some tactics to help prevent stains as well as remove stains after they occur:
Regular Brushing and Flossing
As always, regular brushing (twice a day for two minutes) as recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) is the first step in having a healthy white smile. can also gently scrape the residue off of the teeth to prevent staining before it occurs.
A variety of whitening toothpastes are available online and over-the-counter. Some whitening toothpastes contain the well-known ingredients of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide while others use activated charcoal as the cleaning agent. Look for whitening toothpastes with the ADA seal of approval are suggested to further maintain tooth whiteness. Whitening toothpastes often contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as the whitening agent. These products can be used on a regular basis and effectively increase whiteness by at least one shade.
Peroxide and Baking Soda Solution
Simply mixing baking soda and peroxide together to make a whitening paste is also recommended by many dentists to aid in the whitening process. The solution should be somewhat runny and not too gritty. The right consistency is important to make sure you are not damaging the tooth enamel in the process.
Whitening strips are available over the counter and have proven results in creating brighter smiles. While most whitening strips are safe, some have the controversial ingredient, chlorine dioxide, as the whitening agent. Chlorine dioxide is a harsh chemical that eats away at the enamel as the method to whiten the teeth. So be aware of what chemical compounds are in your whitening strips. The ADA approves many whitening products on the market, their seal of approval can help assure that your whitening product is both effective and safe.
Another over-the-counter solution to a whiter, brighter smile may be using a whitening mouthwash. This popular method of whitening mouth rinse often involves a solution with hydrogen peroxide as the bleaching agent. It is not recommended to use mouthwash right after brushing because it can rinse away the beneficial effects of fluoride in your toothpaste. Waiting a recommended half hour or using a mouth rinse at lunch or in the evening are alternative options.
Strategically Plan Your Coffee Drinking
While giving up coffee altogether may be the best solution to having a naturally white smile, that is not a realistic option for many individuals. Strategically planning your consumption of dark-colored foods can be a realistic solution. Food for thought; instead of drinking coffee all day long, choose to just drink your coffee in the morning or a specific time of day followed by your choice of oral hygiene. This reduces the continual build-up of staining pigments and reduces the overall opportunity for the teeth to be stained.
Brush or Rinse Your Teeth After Drinking Coffee
Brushing your teeth about thirty minutes after drinking coffee can help save your smile in the long run. In addition, if you do not have time or access to a toothbrush and toothpaste, just rinsing your mouth with warm water or drinking a glass of water is “a” great option for regular and easy preventative dental care. Brushing too soon after eating or drinking something acidic can actually weaken your tooth enamel. So wait or just rinse your mouth out with water.
Drinking Through A Straw
While drinking through a straw is not a cure-all for whiter teeth, it can help. When drinking through a straw, most of the liquid goes to the back of the mouth immediately preventing the dark staining liquids from even coating the front of the mouth and teeth. Using a straw can be effective for both hot and cold beverages. While some of your teeth, such as your molars, will come in contact with the coffee, the front teeth in your smile are less likely to stain.
Teeth Whitening: Professional Care
Regular cleanings by a dentist will help keep a smile shining. Additional teeth whitening treatments are available at a professional level. Often, over-the-counter whitening options work with continuous use over the course of time, but some clients want quality whitening with quick results. One solution includes using Zoom whitening gel that involves a specific light that activates the gel substance for safe and immediate whiter smile.
So, beyond reducing or eliminating coffee from your diet, there are plenty of action steps you can do to maintain or brighten your smile. Home remedies and over-the-counter products are popular and effective solutions. Professional care from a qualified dentist can also help you get the results you want. To learn more about our teeth whitening services, contact the office of Dr. Evans to schedule a free consultation.