Beyond Toothpaste: 10 Healthy Tips For a Whiter Smile

A beautiful smile is often the first thing people notice about you. And you can’t have a beautiful smile without healthy, white teeth. But as most of you may know, brushing and flossing alone don’t cut it. For truly white teeth that make your smile glisten, check out these 10 tips from Dr. Timothy Chase, a 20-year veteran of cosmetic dentistry and a practicing partner at SmilesNY.

Drink a Lot of Water

Water keeps the body hydrated, increasing salivary flow, while rinsing away food particles. Saliva naturally keeps teeth disease free by reducing acid in the mouth, lessening the possibility of tooth decay. “It starts with water,” Chase declared. “The best thing you can do for your mouth is drink water.” If your mouth gets dried out, saliva can’t do its job. Chewing a great deal also increases saliva.

Chow Down on Crunchy Produce

Fibrous fruits and vegetables clean the teeth on a mechanical level. Crunchy plant foods – such as apples, cauliflower, carrots and celery – work as an abrasive scrub for your teeth. These fruits and vegetables also encourage saliva production, helping to prevent plaque formation.

Avoid Sugary Foods and Drinks

Steer clear of anything with a high sugar content. High levels of sugar can lower the pH in the mouth, destroying tooth enamel. Bacteria that reside in the mouth eat sugar, creating acid as a byproduct. This acid breaks down and demineralizes the enamel. Bacteria can thrive in the nooks and crannies of this broken down enamel.

Stop Smoking

“From a stain point of view, the worst thing you can do is smoke,” Chase said. Not only is smoking bad for your health, it stains the teeth and dries out the mouth, decreasing saliva flow.

Watch Out for Stains

A basic rule of thumb is anything that stains your shirt, will stain your teeth. Food and drinks such as red wine, blueberries, soy sauce and coffee are best avoided if you want those pearlies to stay white. If you do consume these foods, rinse your mouth with water afterwards. “Once that stain gets into the pores of the tooth, really professional cleaning and peroxide is the best way to get that out,” Chase said. “(To get a white smile) don’t mess it up to begin with.”

Don’t Brush Immediately After Eating

After finishing a meal, it is best not to brush straight away. By waiting 30 minutes, you give your saliva a chance to remineralize your teeth. When you have a sugary meal, the pH in your mouth lowers, demineralizing the enamel. When you brush right after eating, you can damage the enamel because it is in a weakened state. Instead, rinse your mouth with water and wait for at least half an hour.

Polish Your Teeth Naturally

Both strawberries and oranges are good natural choices that can actually polish your teeth. Chase says that rubbing an orange peel or a strawberry over your teeth, and then rinsing your mouth with water will turn your teeth noticeably whiter in just a few short months.

Don’t Have Your Whitener in Your Toothpaste

Chase is a big believer in separating whitening products from your toothpaste. Use a fluoride toothpaste to keep your teeth clean and then find a peroxide-based option to keep them white. Chase says the only way to whiten teeth is to apply peroxide to the tooth for an extended period of time. “If you want to use a whitening product that really works, use a peroxide-based whitening product separately from everyday tooth care,” he said. “Peroxide materials have been proven to work and proven to be safe.”

Don’t Eat Sticky Foods

“For a dental decay standpoint, avoid foods that are really sticky and can get into the grooves of your teeth,” Chase said. This includes caramel, fruit chews, gummy candies and anything else that can stick to your teeth and lead to enamel breakdown.

Natural Toothpaste Is a Good Option

If you are into eco-friendly and natural tooth care, there is nothing wrong with selecting a natural toothpaste such as Tom’s of Maine. “There is an entire supermarket row full of toothpaste. You will find something that works for you,” Chase said. “I like natural toothpaste because it gets rid of some of the detergents and other ingredients in mass-produced toothpaste.”

Remember that good oral hygiene is not just about cosmetics.

“Dental disease doesn’t just stay in the mouth. All the studies shown a link between oral disease and overall systemic disease (such as heart and kidney disease)… It is really important not just for the looks of your teeth but also for your overall well-being to keep your mouth healthy,” Chase said.

If you feel your teeth are dark, see your dentist.

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