How To Keep Your Teeth White

You brush. You Floss. You visit your dentist regularly. You take great care of your teeth, but you still want that white movie-star smile. Here’s how to whiten your teeth and keep them bright between cleanings.

The Truth About Tooth Whitening Products

What’s more scary: your yellow teeth, or the price of getting a laser whitening treatment from your dentist? Laser tooth whitening treatments involve applying a hydrogen peroxide treatment to your teeth and using lasers to speed up the bleaching process. This gives you whiter teeth much more quickly than using at-home whitening kits for weeks before seeing results.

How To Keep Your Teeth White How To Keep Your Teeth White

An occasional round of white strips can help significantly, but make sure you take care of your teeth by keeping them healthy first.

The downside is obviously the hundreds of dollars you’ll spend, which is why you’re probably shopping around for a store-bought whitening kit.

Consumer Reports tested several over-the-counter whitening kits. The best they found were Crest Whitestrips Supreme ($50), which you must purchase from a dentist’s office or online. Strips in general perform best, with the exception of Target’s Whitening Dissolving Strips. The i-White – a battery-operated tray with a light designed to speed whitening – was near the bottom of the ratings, despite claims to provide “dental professional results at home.” Products with trays may not fit and excess gel could ooze out and be swallowed. While store-bought white strips perform well, you shouldn’t expect extreme results like you could get from more pricey laser treatments.

If the price of whitening kits (and the questionability of their effectiveness) has you down, you’ve likely opted for a whitening toothpaste. These toothpastes typically cost an extra buck or two than normal pastes, and promise to remove the worst of stains from your teeth. However – while whitening toothpastes may slow the staining process – a study in the British Dental Journal found that the vast majority fell short of their claims to make teeth lighter. Most contain hydrogen peroxide, but in an over-processed, unstable form and in very small amounts.

Home Whitening Treatments to Never Try

Your dentist would be horrified to find out what you’re doing to whiten your teeth at home. If you’ve followed friends’ advice to use lemon juice for removing tooth stains, stop! Lemon juice is far too acidic and can cause teeth to lose calcium – which is irreplaceable once lost. While a little lemon juice spritzed on your food isn’t dangerous, sucking on lemons can destroy teeth.

Another commonly-used, cheap method of removing tooth stains at home involves brushing teeth with baking soda. While baking soda doesn’t kill germs in the mouth, it can remove plaque and break down stains. It can, however, be very abrasive, so avoid using baking soda on your teeth more than once or twice a week and use a gentler toothpaste the rest of the time.

Preventing New Tooth Stains

To reduce tooth stains (and avoid getting them in the first place), go easy on coffee, tea, red wine, and soft drinks (even the clear ones). Especially avoid smoking, and brush teeth after meals as often as possible (take your toothbrush to work). This advice – combined with regular cleanings and checkups from your dentist – can be enough to avoid and even get rid of staining. An occasional round of white strips can help significantly, but make sure you take care of your teeth by keeping them healthy first.

Author Bio: Dr. Nathan Tanner is a dentist in Billings, MT., who has extensive experience through owning his own practice, Grand Avenue Dental Care, and from teaching cosmetic and pain-free dentistry at the OHSU dental school.

Videos for How To Keep Your Teeth White


1 Comment

  1. Emocide says:

    Over time, it is definitely possible for regular consumption of lemon juice to erode part of the outside enamel layer in our teeth. Lemon juice is highly acidic, and it’s especially high in one acid called citric acid. The enamel surface of our teeth is highly mineralized. The key mineral in our tooth enamel is called hydroxyapatite, and it’s primarily a calcium and phosphorus-containing crystal-like substance. The chemistry of citric acid and calcium is such that certain forms of each substance like to join together and form calcium citrate. This electrochemical fit between citric acid and calcium is the reason that fruits high in citric acid can erode the tooth enamel. Most of the studies here have involved orange juice rather than lemon juice. The results with orange juice are sometimes mixed, but orange juice (with a pH between 3 and 4) is not as acidic as lemon juice (with a pH between 2 and 3). Still, for both citrus fruits, the principles behind tooth enamel erosion would be basically the same.

Leave a Comment