Okay, so you just dropped a couple hundred dollars having your teeth professionally whitened at the dentist – you’re feeling extra clean and fresh, but now the anxiety sets in: how do I keep my teeth like this forever? Unfortunately, teeth get stained – it’s just what happens when you eat and drink. But if you want to maintain those truly pearly whites, follow these three essential habits that will keep your teeth white and brighter than the rest.
Use a Straw
Using a straw initially doesn’t seem like it would have any effect on your teeth, but in reality, this may be one of the most important factors in preventing tooth stains. When you take a sip of coffee from your mug or soda from the can, you’re passing it through nearly all of your teeth and swishing it in your mouth before swallowing. Using a straw send the liquid straight to the back of your mouth; you can taste the flavor, but it’s far less likely to touch the front surfaces of your teeth. Try using a straw when you drink especially acidic fluids, like coffee, tea, soda, or juice. Unfortunately, white and red wine can also cause staining, but using a straw at your fancy office party may not be advisable if you’d prefer not to stand out in a crowd.
Finally, a solution we can get behind! Chewing a sugar-free gum that’s been given the American Dental Association’s Seal of Approval can help prevent staining caused by acidic foods and drinks. Many people choose to chew a minty gum after drinking coffee or tea, which provides the added benefit of preventing the dreaded coffee breath. Chewing gum mimics your mouth’s response to chewing food, causing it to create more saliva, which in turn wipes away leftover food and drink residue from the surface of your teeth. This can help remove any staining agents leftover from eating or drinking acidic or dark foods. Additionally, chewing gum is gentler on your teeth than brushing, especially after eating. Even acidic foods that don’t directly cause stains can weaken your tooth enamel, which can wear away if you brush immediately afterward. Chewing gum can help wipe away leftover acid, which can prevent stains without using an abrasive brush.
Eat the Right Foods (and Not the Wrong Ones)
You’ve heard from your dentist to avoid staining culprits like coffee, red wine, spaghetti sauce, and tea, but what they don’t always tell you is that some foods can help prevent stains and keep your teeth whiter. Like we mentioned above, saliva neutralizes and wipes away staining agents and acidic leftovers from harmful foods – in general, more saliva is better. Certain everyday foods – like apples, celery, and carrots – tend to trigger more saliva production, which subsequently prevents the buildup of acid and staining bacteria. Ask your dentist about the best foods for your teeth, and pair those with your favorite stain-causing treats to help counteract damage to your teeth.
Following these tips can make a big difference in the long-term appearance of your teeth; however, it’s important to continue brushing and flossing daily. White teeth are not always healthy teeth, so make sure you’re maintaining good oral hygiene and following your dentist’s instructions at home.