Do you have stained teeth?
Perfectly straight, white and sparkling teeth is pretty much the dream, right? When I was younger my dentist told my parents I didn’t really need braces because “no one ever died from crooked teeth”. While this is totally true (and certainly saved my parents a lot of money!), as an adult my teeth are far from perfect.
When it comes to straightening my teeth, I’d have to look at long-term treatments like Invisalign. Luckily, the colour of my teeth is something I can take more immediate action on! I chat to leading Australian dentist and Oral-B spokesperson, Dr Christopher Ho, to find out the common causes of teeth staining.
Dr Ho identifies the top causes of teeth discolouration are drinking tea, coffee and red wine, as well as smoking. “The nicotine contained within cigarettes will often be deposited as a surface stain onto the teeth and may even penetrate internally over time.” As for tea, coffee and red wine, these drinks “contain tannins which often stick to teeth and cause unsightly stains”. But if you can’t bear the thought of giving up your morning brew, there are ways to combat surface stains, which I’ll get to later!
Believe it or not, curries, tomato sauce, soy sauce and other condiments, as well as berry fruits such as blueberries and blackberries are all teeth staining offenders.
Is flossing really that important?
If you’re anything like me then every dentist visit involves a sheepish confession that you don’t floss every night. Then, post-dentist you’ll floss religiously for a week or two until you get tired of it, until your next appointment when the vicious cycle begins again. I ask Dr Ho about whether flossing is really that important, especially in terms of teeth staining and he tells me yes, yes it is! “We should floss every day, as food can get trapped between the teeth, stagnating and allowing bacteria to grow.” Not only can this bacteria cause discolouration but it can also lead to tooth decay, gum disease or chronic bad breath. Excuse me while I purchase some fresh floss…
Dr Ho also reckons most of us aren’t even brushing our teeth properly (eek!). He tells me most people don’t brush twice a day and for those who do, they often don’t brush for the dentist-recommended two minutes. Maybe a new toothbrush will inspire you to stick it out for 120 seconds!
Our picks are:
Preventing teeth discolouration
As mentioned, brushing twice a day (for two minutes each time!) and regular flossing are both important to prevent teeth discolouration. Dr Ho also recommends using a good quality fluoride toothpaste to “protect teeth against cavities and strengthen enamel”. In terms of long-term teeth protection and staining prevention, Dr Ho says it’s all about getting into the right habit. “No one wants to have dentures later in life, and developing good habits is an important strategy to look after your teeth.” One such habit he recommends is to rinse your mouth with water after consuming any of the above culprits to “dislodge some of the stains before they become stubbornly incorporated onto your teeth”. And of course, use a quality toothpaste every day!
bh recommends these daily fluoride toothpastes:
Whether it’s from copious amounts of coffee, a nightly red wine, or like me, from a long string of antibiotics as a kid, some of us already have stained teeth. But on the bright side (pun intended), you can whiten your teeth and achieve long-term results by using toothpastes, mouthwashes or kits that are formulated with whitening ingredients.
In-the-chair treatments include composite veneers (temporary covers for your teeth) or porcelain veneers (permanent).
So, while my teeth may not be perfectly straight, at least I know there are plenty of simple strategies and formulated products I can adopt to both avoid and treat discolouration. Hello, bright, white smile!
Do you have stained teeth? What do you do to combat this?