If you’ve been hitting the iced lattes, red vino, and other stain-causing food and beverages the past few months (even those farmers’ market berries are to blame), then chances are your pearly whites might not be so, um, white. “The most common reasons for teeth to get stained and yellowed are drinking dark-colored liquids such as coffee, tea, red wine, and soda,” says New York City-based dentist Steven Davidowitz. “In addition, poor oral hygiene and the natural aging process will lead to discoloration of your teeth.” To get your smile back on track, follow these rules.
Invest In A Good Toothbrush
“By brushing gently, twice a day, with fresh soft bristles, covering all surfaces of your teeth over a full two minutes, you will be able to keep surface stains away and your teeth naturally white,” says dentist Jennifer Plotnik of Grand Street Dental in Brooklyn. “An electric toothbrush like Quip ($25), has vibrating bristles and a timer to ensure a sensitive, but thorough clean, and they have a brush head subscription program, which allows you replace them when you need to.”
Opt For a Whitening Toothpaste
Aside from brushing with the right brush, Davidowitz recommends using a specialized toothpaste for clear results. “Professional dental cleaning visits are critical to removing the plaque and stains that develop over time, however, whitening toothpaste can help the process on a daily basis,” he says.
Try Luster Premium White Power White Deep Stain Eraser ($7), which claims to remove 95 percent of surface stains in five days, or Colgate Optic White Radiant ($7), which relies on hydrogen peroxide to remove deep-set stains. Or, keep the paste you love and go for ECO Balance ($79), a gel that you place on top your toothpaste that volumizes as it turns into a foam. This delivers actives to hard-to-reach areas (like where decay and bleeding gums start… eek), so you end up with a healthier mouth, fresh breath, and whiter teeth over time.
Try An On-the-Go Pen
“Zoom! Whitening Pens ($26 for a two-pack) are great to have handy before going out on the town, whether for an important function or date or night out with friends,” advises Davidowitz. “They’re discreet and allow for easy application and scrubbing, with mild hydrogen peroxide to brighten teeth on-the-go.”
Opt for in-house treatments, however, if you’re looking to keep track of your progress. “Some dental offices have comprehensive visits where hygienists do shade-taking, which helps track your tooth’s health/shade through guides and professional photography,” mentions Levine. “It’s hard to keep track of aesthetic goals and see if your whitening products are working if you can’t measure the progress. Next time you’re at your dentist’s office, ask them if they do shade-taking to track yours.”
Don’t Forget to Floss
Regular at-home oral hygiene is the key to making sure your whitening results are long lasting, according to Davidowitz. “Flossing not only keeps your teeth and gums healthy, but it removes tartar buildup and thereby prevents those shadows and stains from forming in-between your teeth,” he says. Try Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Deep Clean Cool Mint Flavor Dental Floss ($7) in a three pack so you can keep one in your beauty bag, one in your handbag, and one deskside. Not into floss? Davidowitz also notes that “eating carrots, celery, broccoli, and lettuce, as well as crunchy nuts, can actually contribute to the natural exfoliation of your teeth and help in breaking down the stain molecules before they are visible.”
Skip the Strips in Favor of a Whitening Device
“At home, there are a number of things a person can do to get their teeth white — and keep them white,” says New York City-based Jonathan B. Levine. “We created a whitening tool called GLO Brilliant Personal Teeth Whitening Device ($220) that amplifies the effect of whitening gel, so wear times are short with zero sensitivity.” The device uses a mouthpiece that warms the gel and gets it active. Insert it for three, eight-minute sessions and you’re done! It can be used for initial whitening and a few times a month for maintenance. The best part is you don’t have to deal with messy tray gels and long wear times that cause sensitivity. If the $220 price tag is a little hefty for you, you can also try GLO Pop 10-Day Teeth Whitening Treatment ($75), which is an on-the-go kit that can be used anytime throughout the day. But remember, “After you get your teeth whitened, avoid eating anything that can stain a white t-shirt for the next 48 hours following your appointment,” advises Levine.
What’s your go-to whitening product? Tweet us @BritandCo!
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(Featured photo via Getty)