12 Ways to Whiten Your Teeth

We don’t need research to tell us that a bright, white, attractive smile is an important social asset — but if we did want research, it’s out there: over 99.5% of respondents in a survey agreed that a smile is important. There. Now don’t you feel scientifically validated?

But what are the best ways to keep those pearly whites pearly and white? Here are 12 helpful tips, broken down into four subcategories. You know, for science.

The Food You Eat.

  • THE MECHANICAL: It’s not all about nutrition — some foods help keep your teeth white by good ol fashioned physical contact. Raw cauliflower, raw broccoli, nuts, apples, and really any fruit or veggie that crunches, can actually brush your teeth while you eat them! Is there anything nature can’t do?

  • THE NUTRITIONAL: Okay, a lot of the time it is about nutrition. Foods rich in calcium (cheese, yogurt, etc.) are great for keeping teeth white, and foods rich in magnesium (nuts, mostly) help that calcium get where it needs to go and bond when it gets there. And citric acid (oranges, lemons, limes, etc) is not just a great source of vitamin C, but the acid itself helps keep teeth clean by dissolving plaque.

  • THE NO-NOS: Coffee, dark teas, tobacco, blueberries, dark colas, red wine… all of these can stain and discolor your teeth, regardless of how healthy they may or may not be for the rest of your body. If you do partake in any of these, just be sure to partake in moderation, and rinse your mouth afterwards.

Avoiding Deeper Problems.

  • If your teeth have visible decay spots, all the whitening techniques in the world won’t cover them up. So brushing and flossing at home is a must. Get your routine going: once in the morning, once at night, and once after particularly heavy meals or sugary binges.

  • Along with your home care, you need the semi-annual services of a trained, helpful, capable, and not-at-all-scary dentist to examine your mouth and give you a thorough professional cleaning. Because imagine how less-white your smile will be if your teeth fall out.

  • We’ve all succumbed to the call of the wild Twinkie — sometimes it’s nigh irresistible. But don’t worry: rinsing your mouth afterwards with simple tap water for as little as seven seconds can be enough to loosen whatever plaque might be trying to latch onto your enamel, which will help prevent decay in the early stages.

Industrial-Strength Solutions.

  • If your teeth have progressed beyond the point where a dietary change will be of any use, there are cosmetic options available. A simple chemical whitening procedure can brighten your teeth by up to eight shades, and can be done in less than an hour in a dentist’s office.

  • Decay spots can be covered up as well, with the application of porcelain veneers. The veneers act as masks for your teeth, making the otherwise unattractive bits look shiny and new. Like reverse Halloween.

  • For more advanced cases of decay or root damage, a cosmetic dentist can actually swap out the whole works, replacing an entire tooth, a series of teeth, or your entire dental setup. Implants act as replacement roots for brand new teeth, which will, logically, be nice and white when you get them.

Bonus: Low-Tech Fixes.

  • A pack of gum can be your teeth’s best friend. Stick to the sugarless kind, and find something wintergreen-ish, so you can skip the after-dinner mint (it’s just a big ball of sugar, anyway)

  • One of the best substances to help get rid of plaque is something we create ourselves — saliva. And a great way to produce more saliva? A rock. Yes, a rock. Placing a small, smooth (and washed) pebble between your cheek and gum can stimulate the production of saliva whenever you want it. This is also a great cure for chronic dry-mouth before public speaking or performances.

  • Ladies and very self-confident men, this one’s for you: A slightly darker shade of lipstick will make your teeth appear slightly whiter by contrast. Just try not to over-do it, Elvira.


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