Nothing that gives you joy during tough times is frivolous. With the status of your next dental appointment unknown or up in the air due to global health events, it’s only natural to focus on the state of your smile — it’s a major point of pride, and keeping it looking gleaming and sparkling is a priority for many. While the only safe teeth-whitening treatment is one provided by your dentist, there are some ways you can preserve and prolong the effects at home — and some DIY home remedies you should definitely steer clear of.
Do: Brush, Floss and Rinse
Your teeth shine best when they’re clean. If you’re waiting to get in and get your semiannual dental cleaning, you can do your part to make sure your teeth stay as gunk-free as possible by maintaining a good home care regimen.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. For more impact, brush after each meal and snack. Floss at least once a day to remove food and stuck-on particles, which feed bacteria that can contribute to decay and dinginess. A mouth rinse containing optical whiteners can also lend a hand to keeping your smile looking fresh and stunning.
Don’t: Seek a Fast Fix
Whitening toothpastes make a lot of bold claims, but many can actually cause damage to the enamel that give your smile the gleaming white glow you’ve come to expect. Harsh whitening ingredients like hydrogen peroxide can thin enamel, allowing the yellow dentin below to become more visible. This alone is enough to give your teeth a yellowed hue. Optical whiteners, which are basically bits of bluish dye, cancel out some of the yellow and don’t cause harm.
Similarly, don’t seek out gimmicky whiteners like charcoal chews or toothpastes — this ingredient, though touted as a fix for detoxifying or heavy-duty cleaning, can actually etch or wear away your enamel and leave you with major problems that extend beyond a less-than-sparkling smile.
Do: Keep in Touch with Your Dentist
Even if your dentist’s office is closed, keep in touch with them to keep abreast of any news of a reopening. If you experience any problems like a dental emergency — perhaps caused by a DIY whitening treatment — you can also often reach out to your dentist to see what the best course of action is.
Don’t: Use At-Home Whiteners
At-home whiteners are a bad investment. At the very least, they can cause a buildup of ingredients on your tooth surfaces that your dentist will have to remove at your next cleaning. At the worst, they can actually cause your teeth real and lasting damage. Harsh ingredients, abrasives and chemicals that, when used improperly, can leave your smile hurting and looking horrible, are all too common in DIY, over-the-counter tooth whiteners. Skip them.
Do: Watch What You Eat
If you’re looking to extend the time between whitening treatments, steer clear of foods that can cause yellowing and staining. Coffee, red wine and berries can all lead to some funky tie-dye effects on your teeth.
Conversely, foods like celery, carrots and apples all provide some mechanical removal of staining. Choose rougher, fibrous fruits and veggies to sample some of nature’s own whiteners that can give your teeth a boost in appearance and feel.
Don’t: Forget to Drink Water
If you can’t brush after every meal and snack throughout the day, you’re not alone. The next best thing to do is rinse with some water — or drink up! Staying hydrated helps maintain circulation throughout your body, including to your tongue, gums and mouth. It’ll lessen the effects of dry mouth, cut down on bad breath and rinse away any potentially staining or harmful food particles. If there were ever a time to make good on that New Year’s Resolution to get a full day’s allowance of water, it’s now.
We’re Here for You
The office of Drs. Krieger and Hur is currently closed to help keep our patients, staff and families safe and sound. While we’re not able to book appointments or answer questions over the phone, you can still reach us via email by clicking here. It’s okay to be concerned about the whiteness of your smile, even as you tackle bigger worries — the joy of having a gleaming, white smile is something you can focus on by taking smaller steps to improve your home care routine while we wait to see you again.