Almost all of us would love to flash those pearly whites whenever we smile! Sadly, most of us would have to be content with simple nods and tight lipped smiles in order to cover our faded, yellowed teeth. And while many of us may have the notion that teeth once discolored cannot become white again, the truth is far from it. Given below are some excellent tips that would help bring back that sparkling white color in your teeth.
These tips if followed regularly would ensure that you get back that million dollar smile in no time at all. But first, you would need to understand the basic causes for teeth discoloration in order to fight it effectively.
What is Tooth Enamel? And How Does it Contribute to Teeth Color?
The enamel is the protective outer covering of the teeth that protects the inner, more sensitive layers of the teeth from external elements. Although teeth enamel is very hard, it is translucent and so does not contribute to the natural teeth color in any way (many individuals believe otherwise). In fact, the enamel merely reflects the color of the teeth as shown by the inner dentin which is responsible for the teeth color.
Enamel Erosion and its Effects
With time and negligence, the enamel protecting the teeth surface can wear away and expose the inner dentin. This can result in conditions like teeth discoloration, increased teeth sensitivity, decay, cavities, tooth loss and even periodontal gum disease etc.+
Main Causes for Enamel Erosion
The main reason for enamel erosion happens to be the acid that comes with the food and drinks that we consume on a daily basis. Foods that contain plenty of starches and sugars, soft drinks, beverages like tea, coffee, alcohol and red wine etc. and even certain fruit juices (the packaged varieties) contain high levels of acids that can act on teeth enamel and cause erosion.
Cigarettes can also stain teeth enamel and cause discoloration. Medications like antihistamines and aspirin can also in certain cases cause teeth discoloration. Other factors that can contribute to enamel erosion include acid reflux disease (GERD), xerostomia (dry mouth), enamel fluorosis (too much fluoride in the body), bruxism (caused by teeth clenching or grinding), abrasion (damage caused by chewing tobacco, brushing hard or biting nails, pens etc.), bulimia (frequent vomiting), gastrointestinal disorders, tooth damage or genetic disorders.
Ways to Restore Tooth Enamel
There are many ways in which you can restore tooth enamel and prevent enamel erosion in the future as well. Here are some of the more common and more effective tips that can help you out in this case.
Proper Oral Hygiene
A proper oral hygiene is necessary to ward off all kinds of dental issues, including enamel erosion. Make sure that you brush your teeth at least twice a day or after every meal. Follow up with flossing to remove dirt or food particles that might be lodged in between teeth.
Use soft headed toothbrushes and brush softly so as to not damage the enamel. Use specialized fluoride toothpastes (or toothpastes that contain fluoride as an active ingredient) to restore teeth enamel, strengthen teeth and prevent discoloration.
Salt water rinses are considered extremely effective in restoring teeth enamel. You can also opt for baking soda and use a rinse that contains equal parts of water and baking soda for good results.
Food grade hydrogen peroxide is also considered as an effective rinsing agent and you can opt for a solution that contains ½ spoon of hydrogen peroxide mixed in a cup of water. Rinsing with these solutions several times a day would help restore teeth enamel and bring back the original color of the same.
Definite Changes in Eating Habits
You would need to make some immediate changes to your existing diet as soon as you notice the initial signs of enamel erosion underway (i.e. staining). This includes cutting down on foods and drinks high in sugar, starches and acids like lemons, citrus fruits, sodas, tea, coffee, alcohol etc. In addition to this, you would need to keep a sharp check on the snacks that you eat in between meals.
While the snacks themselves would not contribute to enamel erosion, the interval in between each meal-snack session could contribute to the issue. It is best considered to avoid snacking for at least a couple of hours after a meal. The mouth would tend to be acidic for a few hours after meals. So snacking immediately or after a few minutes of having your meal can put you in danger of enamel erosion.
If possible, brush your teeth after every snacking session as well. Dry mouth can contribute to enamel erosion. So drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and your mouth wet. You can also choose to chew gum frequently to increase saliva production. In addition to preventing tooth enamel, this can help strengthen teeth as well.
OTC Mouthwashes to Restore Teeth Enamel
There are several over the counter products that can be used to restore teeth enamel. In addition to fluoride toothpastes, you can also opt for fluoride mouthwashes that are sold at pharmacies. These products would replenish the fluoride levels in the mouth, strengthen teeth and restore teeth enamel in the process.
Alternatively, you can opt for mouth washes prescribed by your dentist as well. Check with a dentist before opting for a specific brand of mouth wash. And make sure you follow the instructions to the ‘T’ to avoid unnecessary side effects.
Artificial Options that Help
Dental crowns are considered effective ways to strengthen teeth and restore tooth enamel. Tooth bonding is also a popular option by many for an enhanced cosmetic appearance. Severely damaged teeth can be repaired effectively using sealants like amalgam or composite fillings to prevent further decay and discoloration caused by enamel erosion.
Regular Visits to the Dentist
It is recommended that you visit a dentist at least once in every 6 months for a periodic checkup. In addition to checking the condition of your teeth and gums, he/she may professionally clean your teeth and remove plaque/tartar/calculus deposits that could in turn help restore teeth enamel in addition to preventing further erosion.