One of the fastest growing areas of dentistry these days has to be tooth whitening products; including strips, rinses, toothpastes, bleaching trays, whitening lasers such as ZOOM, and many more. But what I personally do not like about whitening products is that it provides you with a quick fix. This makes you less likely to worry about what you are eating or drinking, and how that affects your teeth.
Whitening products are usually bleach based. Bleach is a pretty potent chemical, and how it works on teeth might surprise a lot of you. The idea is that the acid pokes microscopic holes in the enamel, the outer protective surface of your teeth, so that the whitening penetrates to the deeper layers of your teeth.
So what's the problem? Over time, these microscopic holes also make it easier for fluids to penetrate the enamel surface as well! This not only induces stronger sensitivity to cold or hot drinks, but also makes it more likely that you will stain!
The more you stain, the more likely you will use whitening products, the more likely you will stain, and so on...
I am not downplaying bleaching producs, but I would like to offer preventative tips so that you are less likely to stain, and less likely to overuse whitening products.
Coffee It is interesting to note how whitening prodcuts in the U.S. became more popular as Starbucks expanded! I guess dentists owe Starbucks a whole lot. Joking aside, coffee is one of the biggest causes of tooth staining.
So what can you do? I have three words, Milk, milk, milk. A latte is a shot of espresso with the rest of the cup made of milk. This greatly lowers the staining power of the espresso. And lactose intolerance is not an excuse anymore. There are many milk alternativers, including soy milk. What if you don't like milk? Than you should have a bottle of water on hand and rinse (read on).
Tea There are many alternatives to black tea, which is very potent in staining teeth. Even green tea can have a strong staining effect. What you should drink are herbal teas. White tea is also a great alternative. White tea is made from amateur green tea leaves.
Wine We all know the staining power of red wine, especially on couches and cocktail dresses! So if you enjoy your wine on a daily basis, then try to stick to white wine as much as possible. Do you still favour red wine? Then, rinse (Read on).
Fruit Juice Surprised! Some fruit juices can stain your teeth, such as cranberries, blackberries, and carrots. Stick to lighter juices, such as apples, pineapples, and melons.
Soda Stick to soda with a lighter shade, such as gingerale, Sprite, and try to keep away from darker sodas such as Pepsi, Coke, and Root Beer. But, regardless of the staining effect, sodas are carbonated, which can over time cause the breakdown of enamel.
Lemonade Lemonade is high in acidity, and usually high in sugars. This combination is very potent. So please, no lemonade!
Water Relax, water does not stain, but it does deserve its own section here because it can be the greatest tool in your arsenal against tooth stains. Whenever I am drinking coffee, tea, or wine I always have a bottle or glass of water on hand. It has now become a habit of mine to rinse my mouth with water after a few sips of whatever I'm drinking. This minimizes the staining effect of these drinks since it lowers the amount of time they are coating my teeth.