Surface stains are the main cause of tooth discoloration. By removing these stains, teeth naturally begin to look whiter, brighter, and more appealing. Depending on the type of staining you are dealing with, it may be possible to accomplish this without topical bleaches and other more involved teeth whitening options.
Whitening teeth isn’t something that’s particularly complex, but it can be difficult to achieve the most appealing results without a little assistance. If your at-home teeth whitening attempts are not as successful as you’d hoped, call NYC cosmetic dentists Dr. Elisa Mello and Dr. Ramin Tabib to schedule a consultation and learn how we can lighten your teeth several shades to reveal the beautiful, bright, white enamel hiding just below the stain.
Prevention is Always Preferable
Removing tooth stains is only necessary when staining is not prevented in the first place – and the easiest way to prevent staining is to take proper care of your teeth. You can help to prevent tooth staining by:
- Drinking coffee, tea, and other dark beverages through a straw
- Refraining from any type of tobacco use
- Reducing your intake of dark sauces, berries, and foods
- Reducing your intake of sugary beverages and drinks
Making smart food choices and not using tobacco will help prevent stains from occurring in the first place, but avoiding dark sauces and certain fruits is neither enjoyable nor advisable, making it important that you know how to address potential staining agents before they have a chance to set.
Brushing your teeth after every meal and snack is perhaps the most effective way to prevent tooth stains. You can choose a mildly abrasive toothpaste if you do not have restorations such as porcelain veneers or white dental crowns, but any toothpaste will do the job if you are consistent in this practice.
To properly brush your teeth:
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Brush all surfaces of the teeth
- Aim for two minutes each time you brush
If you use an electric toothbrush, allow it to do the work for you. Too much pressure – either from manual or electric toothbrushes – can scratch or damage enamel, making it possible for stains to get a deeper foothold.
It is a good idea to allow 30 minutes in between eating and brushing your teeth. Some foods can temporarily weaken enamel. Brushing too quickly after eating these may damage the teeth and allow stains to more rapidly progress.
If you would like personal instruction on proper brushing techniques, we would be happy to assist you during your next visit to our Manhattan office. Give us a call at 212-452-3344 to schedule a consultation and learn more.
Teeth Whitening at Home
If stains are not prevented, they’ll have to be removed. This can be done quickly, by brushing after every meal and snack, or with a little effort after stains have set. Some methods of at-home tooth whitening that are particularly effective are:
- Oil pulling – an Ayurvedic practice, oil pulling is typically done by swishing coconut oil in the mouth for 15 to 20 minutes a day. Benefits of this practice include healthier gums, a cleaner mouth, and whiter teeth
- Brushing with baking soda – baking soda is slightly abrasive, allowing it to remove surface stains even after they have set. However, if you have restorations, baking soda should be avoided as it can scratch and damage porcelain and ceramics
- Use hydrogen peroxide – many tooth whiteners use hydrogen peroxide to bleach teeth. You can make a paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to brush daily or to place on teeth like a mask for five to ten minutes a few times a week. However, this is not advisable if you have restorations
Hydrogen peroxide can be gargled as well, but some people have found this leads to a condition called “black hairy tongue.” Black hairy tongue is much more common in smokers, giving tobacco users one more reason to kick the habit.
Strawberries, charcoal, and other recently touted miracle tooth whiteners are not safe for removing surface stains. Research has found that these methods of tooth whitening permanently damage enamel and should be avoided. If you have already damaged your teeth with malic acid or a charcoal tooth whitener, we can discuss dental bonding or porcelain crowns to address the heightened tooth sensitivity and topical yellowing that inevitably occur when enamel has been removed.
NYC Tooth Whitening Options
Preventing tooth stains is ideal. Removing surface satins at home is helpful. But complete tooth whitening often requires a product designed to whiten teeth. Teeth whitening toothpaste can be effective, but often contain the same ingredients (baking soda and hydrogen peroxide) as pastes you can make yourself. Remember, anything that removes surface stains can be called “tooth whitening.” The title doesn’t necessarily make the product effective at removing actual stains.
Over the counter teeth whitening kits can be somewhat effective as well. They can also be messy, uncomfortable, and inconsistent. It is not uncommon for this method of teeth whitening to result in a mottled tooth appearance or an uneven lightening of enamel on individual teeth. If you want to whiten your teeth at home, it is best to do so with one of the customized take-home teeth whitening kits available at our New York City cosmetic dentistry office.
The kits offered at NYC Smile Design come with application trays that have been customized to fit your exact mouth, helping ensure even coverage for consistent results. What’s more, these application trays help to prevent bleaching solution for leaking, which reduces risks of tooth sensitivity and gum irritation – both of which are common with over the counter tooth whitening kits.
If whitening at home seems like too lengthy a proposition, our cosmetic dentists also offer in-office tooth whiting with Zoom! Safe, effective, and incredibly fast, this method of whitening teeth can produce amazing results during a single office visit, giving you a clean base from which to begin preventing stains through the methods listed above. During your teeth whitening consultation we can provide you with additional information about maintaining results, giving you the tools you need to keep your smile bright and beautiful year-round.
If you live in or around Manhattan and are considering teeth whitening, please call NYC Smile Designs at 212-452-3344 and schedule your consultation today.