Here’s a question I’m asked frequently during cleaning visits: Why is the color of my teeth getting darker and what can I do about it?
You probably know about the most common staining agents — wine, coffee and tobacco — but did you know your toothpaste could be the cause?
Some of the toothpastes out on the market today, including the new Crest Pro-Health variety, have stannous fluoride.
Although it’s great at protecting your teeth from cavities, it’s not so great for the tooth surface as far as staining is concerned.
Crest has chosen to use stannous fluoride as opposed to sodium fluoride, the more widely used anti-cavity agent, in its Pro-Health variety because it has been proven to be a better anti-cavity and anti-gingivitis agent.
Numerous articles have stated that the stain that is produced is not permanent and can be removed during a professional cleaning.
I have found the opposite to be true. Patients are coming in having stain accumulation normally seen with a heavy cigarette smoker. The stain settles into the pits and fissures of the enamel and around existing porcelain restorations, which in most cases can't be removed.
It is heartbreaking to exert two to three times more effort and time on their cleaning and yet not be able to remove the stain completely.
Here are seven tips to prevent staining and keep your teeth their whitest:
1) Use an electric toothbrush. It’s much more effective in removing plaque and stains.
2) Brush twice a day for at least two minutes.
3) Change your toothbrush head every three months.
4) Floss at least once a day to remove the plaque and stains that can hide between your teeth.
5) Use whitening toothpaste.
6) Rinse vigorously with water after drinking red wine, coffee, tea, colas, etc.
7) Avoid toothpastes with stannous fluoride
If you still have persistent staining, you can try over-the-counter whitening trays. The results are hit or miss.
I’ve heard some patients say they’ve had great success with them while others feel that they did not see much improvement. This process involves applying whitening strips to your teeth for several hours a day with the results lasting up to two weeks.
In my opinion, the best over-the-counter whitening agent is Crest White Strips. You can expect to lighten your teeth up to four shades and generally the price point is good.
The drawback is that you need to wear the strips twice a day for 30 minutes and it takes about seven to 10 days until you have reached your desired level of whiteness. With this method, you may not see a even whiteness in your smile because the strips do not cover your teeth completely.
If you’re still not happy with the results or want a longer-term solution, then an in-office whitening treatment is your next option.
At , we use the BriteSmile system and have seen dramatic results, with some patients getting seven to 10 shades lighter. With this option, you would come into the office for two hours, start to finish.
A peroxide gel is applied to the entire surface of your teeth and then a blue light stream is directed at your smile. The combination of the two is what whitens your teeth and the results can last up to two years.
Using touch-up whitening products, regular maintenance professional cleanings and an electric toothbrush can extend your BriteSmile whitening.
So there you have it. There are so many options for keeping your teeth their whitest, but remember that having clean healthy teeth is the first step.
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