When the weather's hot, a frozen pop or iced coffee seems like the ideal snack to help you cool down. Unfortunately, if you've recently had your teeth cleaned, both of those chilly treats can stain your newly brightened smile. Practice the following four summer tips to keep your teeth whiter between cleanings.
1. Identify Your Stain-Causing Food Cravings
Foods that stain teeth are often foods that are very good for you. For example, both beets and berries can stain teeth, but both natural foods offer serious health benefits that make them appealing.
The following foods are known to stain teeth:
- Soy sauce
- Cranberries, cherries, and pomegranates
- Seeded berries including raspberries and blackberries
- Balsamic vinegar
- Tomato sauce
- Curry spices
Limit your consumption of these stain-causing foods to keep your smile bright. If you do indulge in any of these delicious foods, swish water in your mouth as you eat to rinse staining agents off your teeth.
Switch to raw veggies and fruits like apples and carrots to protect your whitened teeth and enjoy a healthy diet at the same time. Hard cheeses and ginger root are additional healthy and teeth-friendly food choices to savor this summer.
2. Use a Straw or Add Milk for Dark Drinks and Sodas
Dark drinks including coffee, tea, energy drinks, and soda have added stain-causing ingredients. Tannins, dyes, and caramel coloring can turn teeth yellow or brown over time. Use a straw when drinking iced coffee, iced tea, wine, cola, and dyed soft drinks.
Using a straw also limits contact with phosphoric acid found in sodas. Phosphoric acid is known to cause acid erosion of teeth.
Studies have shown that adding milk to tea creates a protein that binds tannins and reduces their ability to stain tooth enamel. Milk in coffee also provides a slight benefit to teeth. Create your own iced teas and coffees with a bit of milk or cream added to protect your gleaming grin.
3. Brush Your Tongue and Palate
Stain-causing ingredients remain in the oral cavity after you eat and drink. The staining agents settle in the taste buds on the tongue and on the surface of the palate. Each time they're bathed in saliva, the staining agents are swished over teeth.
Use palate and tongue cleansers during your tooth-care routine to remove these ingredients from your mouth. Specialty brushes and cleaners are available to make this job easier. Ask your dentist to recommend palate and tongue cleaners if you aren't sure which ones are the best to use.
4. Brush Before but Not Directly After Meals
Stain-causing ingredients are drawn to plaque deposits on your teeth. Before meals, brush your teeth thoroughly to remove plaque. Use a toothpaste with fluoride added to help strengthen teeth.
However, you shouldn't brush teeth immediately after eating or drinking acidic foods and beverages. Acidic foods weaken the enamel of teeth as you eat them, and brushing can damage the enamel in this vulnerable state.
Highly acidic foods include:
- Citrus fruits and drinks
- Vinegar and salad dressings
- Pickled foods
- Tomato and tomato sauces
- Tonic water and soda
- Iced tea and coffee
You do more damage to your weakened enamel when you scrub the tooth surface immediately after consuming acidic foods like these. Wait at least 30 minutes to let your tooth enamel rest, and then brush and floss your teeth as usual.
When you're on the go, bring along disposable toothbrushes and flossing tools so you can clean your teeth as soon as possible after the half-hour interval. Travel-size dental aids help you maintain your oral hygiene and your beautiful smile wherever your journeys take you this summer.
Schedule your summer tooth-whitening procedure by contacting the office of Edison C. Louie D.D.S, Inc. before you travel. We offer both tooth whitening and tooth bleaching to our patients in Anaheim and Orange County, California.