Teeth whitening is becoming so popular that to many it is part of their whole cosmetic regimen. The problem with our teeth is that they can be easily stained.
What are surface stains (or extrinsic stains) caused by?
- Drinking coffee, tea or red wine
- Eating highly pigmented foods such as cherries and blueberries
- An accumulation of tartar deposits as a result of plaque that has hardened.
Also, when we eat, the food residue seeps into those fine cracks in our teeth which makes it nearly impossible to brush out. Even if we use whitening toothpastes, they will only bleach out minor discolorations. The longer the stains remain on our teeth, the more difficult they are to get rid of.
So what should we do about stains on the teeth?
A thorough cleaning by a dentist or hygienist will remove most external staining caused by food and tobacco while a whitening toothpaste can also help remove those surface stains between dental visits.
If those stains on your teeth have been there for years, you may need to have your teeth professionally whitened either in your dentist’s office or at home using a system dispensed by your dentist. Both methods use tooth-bleaching gels that oxidize out the stain. Be aware that it is not uncommon for teeth to become slightly sensitive during the whitening process. I cannot warn you about any other side effects because there are no long term medical studies to document any side effects or damage with teeth whitening.
Tooth whitening should last approximately 18 months to 3 years. To help prevent stains from coming back, once you have gone to the trouble and expense of professional whitening, avoid smoking, coffee, tea, red wine and heavily colored foods – this may be a lot to ask of most people!
You can also help by brushing your teeth twice a day with whitening toothpaste.
Home remedies you can use for a more natural approach
- Baking soda – this safe old time favorite can be used alone on a damp toothbrush or mixed with toothpaste to help neutralize the salty taste.
- Hydrogen Peroxide – another inexpensive home remedy but which may sting your gums. Dip a Q-tip in the solution and gently rub onto your teeth, front and back. Most people will see resulting clean, whiter teeth within 2 weeks or sooner.
- Strawberries – this fruit contains natural teeth whitening agents and the seeds clean well too. You can either rub the strawberry against your teeth or mash it up and use it like toothpaste. Because of the sugar and acid content, clean your teeth in the normal fashion afterwards.
- Wood ash – this home remedy contains potassium hydroxide, a compound that will bleach your teeth. The tiny crystals scrape off plaque in hard-to-reach places and scrub the teeth clean. Avoid using wood ash for long periods of time because it could wear down your tooth enamel. To apply to your teeth, put directly onto the toothbrush or mix with a small amount of toothpaste.
- Homemade toothpaste – you can make this paste by mixing baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, table salt in equal quantities and a dab of toothpaste. It will brush away stains. For extra whitening power add wood ash or strawberries. But always clean the ingredients off your teeth afterwards with normal toothpaste.
Consider changing to a natural toothpaste
All those well known branded and conventional toothpastes are full of synthetic chemicals and even poisons.
But there are some safe dental products available such as Weleda, Dental Miracle, Perigum and Tooth Soap which you might like to try out. For example the ingredients in Tooth Soap are saponified coconut, palm, extra virgin olive oils and pure essential oil.
But back to the home remedies and a reminder that they should be used in moderation. We need to remember that teeth naturally have a yellowish tint because of the calcium content, which is an essential mineral for strong tooth enamel. Never use any form of acid such as lemon juice as this can eat away the surface.
Be cautious because once your tooth enamel is ruined, it’s permanent.