You might think that because we are a holistic dentistry practice we might encourage natural DIY whitening treatments that allegedly make stains disappear. Whether or not methods like strawberry pulp or charcoal work is up for debate, but what is for certain is that many natural treatments can actually damage your teeth while you’re trying to shine them up. The surest way to whiten your teeth is with good preventive care and, when necessary, a professional teeth whitening treatment.
What Causes Tooth Stains and Yellow Teeth?
There are two categories of tooth discoloration: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic tooth stains are surface stains that are typically caused by what you eat and drink. Too much coffee, tea, wine, soda, dark-colored fruits, or dark sauces can tint the enamel an undesirable shade. Acidic foods and beverages don’t cause tooth stains themselves, but they do erode the tooth enamel, making it easier for discoloration to seep in and stick around.
Of course, smoking and chewing tobacco can discolor your enamel while also increasing your risk for oral cancer and plenty of other health problems. And neglecting to keep up with daily brushing and flossing and preventive care is a recipe for extrinsic stains to stick around.
Intrinsic tooth stains occur within the tooth and can be caused by antibiotics, antiseptics, and antihistamines (maybe we should listen to the “anti” prefix and leave well enough alone).
But if you take good care of your teeth and keep up with regular visits to your dentist for an exam and professional teeth cleaning, it’s still possible for staining to occur. Some people just have the DNA that makes them prone to developing tooth stains, or they have thin enamel that makes their teeth look yellow naturally. And a side effect of aging itself is a smile that begins to break down and enamel that begins to thin. These things don’t happen to everyone, but they aren’t uncommon.
So What About That Strawberry and Baking-Soda Whitening Trend?
Here’s the reality: You can try to whiten your teeth with certain foods, but without hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide – the key agents in tooth-whitening products, according to the American Dental Association – your teeth will not be permanently whiter. A strawberry and baking soda mixture might remove plaque accumulation on your teeth (and even that is debatable because the citric acid in strawberries can actually weaken your enamel), but this is a superficial solution. The method that’s going to make a palpable difference in your smile is a professional tooth whitening treatment that penetrates your teeth and breaks up the stain molecules.
Ultimately, only your dentist can tell you for certain what the best cosmetic dentistry treatment is for your smile. You don’t want to whiten unhealthy teeth – in cases where your oral health is breaking down, you’ll need to rebuild the foundation of your smile before attempting to beautify it. In some cases, whitening will not be an effective option because stains are too deep and have been around for too long. But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to yellow and brown teeth forever. Porcelain veneers and Cerinate Lumineers can give you the stunning smile you’ve always wanted – and you’ll never have to worry about staining or whitening those tough shells.
Unhappy with the discoloration in your smile? Schedule your personal consultation with Dr. Yolanda Cintron at Fort Lauderdale’s International Center for Dental Excellence to discuss your concerns and find a solution that will make you look better, happier, and healthier.