Human teeth naturally come in a variety of shades of white. While some people have whiter teeth, most people have teeth that are more of a cream color. While whitening techniques can get your teeth whiter, many techniques can strip your teeth of the enamel that protects you from tooth decay and cavities. If you are concerned about the color of your teeth, you may be tempted to try some at-home whitening techniques. However, make sure you are aware of the long-term effects of over-whitening and proceed with caution.
Brushing Immediately After Drinking Coffee or Smoking
You may think that brushing immediately after you eat a tooth-staining food, drink coffee, or smoke can reduce staining on your teeth. While it might prevent a bit of yellowing, it also leaves your teeth exposed when bacteria in your mouth are most active. You should wait at least thirty minutes and preferably an hour after eating before you brush your teeth.
Instead: Rinse With Water
As soon as you finish coffee, tea, or soda, you should rinse your mouth with plain water. This will remove leftover fluid and debris, cut down on bacterial activity, and help save your enamel.
Brushing Every Time You Eat or Drink
Brushing is good for your teeth, but too much brushing can wear down your toothbrush faster than usual. A worn toothbrush, brushing too hard, and brushing too often can damage your enamel and reduce your gum line.
Instead: Brush Twice a Day
You should only brush twice a day. If you brush more often, make sure you brush gently and replace your toothbrush more often (every month as opposed to every three months). As an alternative to brushing every time you eat, consider flossing more often. You cannot floss too much.
Using Rough Abrasion to Remove Stains
Most people assume that pressure is required to remove their stains or whiten their teeth. Unfortunately, too much pressure can damage your gums and weaken your enamel. In addition to too much pressure, highly abrasive compounds, like baking soda, can cause the same damage with little pressure.
Instead: Be Gentle and Consistent
Instead of trying to get your stains to go away in a single brushing, be consistent about your oral health care. You will notice a reduction in stains if you brush gently twice a day.
Focusing on Problem Areas
The only teeth most people can see are those in the front of the mouth. Unfortunately, many people who brush to remove stains spend the majority of their brushing time concentrating on the front teeth. This neglects the teeth in the back of your mouth, the gum line, and the tongue.
Instead: Be Certain to Clean Your Entire Mouth
Removing bacteria in your entire mouth will help reduce plaque that builds up everywhere, including those extra-visible front teeth.
Using a Whitening Toothpaste Too Often
Whitening toothpastes are usually filled with abrasive materials, which can damage your gums and enamel.
Instead: Alternative Whitening Toothpaste with Regular Toothpaste or Skip It Altogether
If you use a whitening toothpaste, you should only use it every other brush or once a day at most. Use a more gentle toothpaste for other brushings. You should talk to your dentist about how often you should use a whitening toothpaste and which one is right for you.
Misusing Over the Counter Whiteners
Using over-the-counter bleaching kits too often can cause damage to your teeth. Bleaching can erode gums and cause sensitivity and sharp pain in the teeth if it is done too often or if you naturally have weak teeth.
Instead: Invest in Less-frequent Professional Whitening Sessions
You should talk to your dentist to make sure that you are a good candidate for bleaching, and limit your bleaching to once or twice a year under their direction.
If you are unhappy with the color of your teeth and want to make a permanent change, you should consider veneers, which are less likely to cause damage to your teeth than at-home whitening methods. Click here for more information about your cosmetic dentistry options.