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Franklyn Alexander, DDS
General & Cosmetic Dentistry

Patients Choice Winner 2016

Helpful Reminders to Keep a White Smile

Keeping white, healthy teeth is a great way to give yourself a confidence boost. When you know your teeth look great, you’re not afraid to flash a big smile – and smiling has benefits that go beyond looks. Here are a few tips for maintaining white teeth.

Quit Smoking

You’re probably aware of all the other health consequences that cigarettes cause, but smokers are prone to stains due to the tar and other chemicals in cigarette smoke. Long-term smokers also tend towards dry mouth, or xerostomia, which reduces the flow of saliva in the mouth. Since saliva is your body’s natural way of keeping your teeth clean and free of debris, a reduction in saliva can mean an increased risk of decay and gum disease as well as higher likelihood of stains.

Don’t Skip Brushing or Flossing

Daily preventative hygiene is one of your most powerful weapons against stains and discoloration. Brush at least twice a day- in the morning and at night before bed- and it’s helpful to brush an hour or so after each meal. Many of us don’t floss as often or as thoroughly as we should, but it’s essential to removing debris from the tiny spaces between teeth where your toothbrush doesn’t reach. If you find it impossible or impractical to brush after each meal, make sure to rinse your mouth out with water to rid yourself of any potentially staining residue.

Ditch the Dark Beverages

Coffee, black tea and red wine aren’t terribly harmful to your health in moderation- tea has even been shown to carry some health benefits- but the dark colors of these drinks combined with their acidity levels makes them bad news for those who want white teeth. If you can’t seem to give up your morning cup of coffee or your weekend wine indulgence, there are a few ways you can minimize the damage. When possible, drink dark colored beverages through a straw to avoid contact with teeth. Have them with meals instead of sipping throughout the day so that your post-meal brushing takes care of the residue, and lastly, some foods like cheese can help protect your teeth from stains when eaten along with a glass of wine.

Stock Up On Teeth-Cleaning Foods

Just as cheese was mentioned as being protective against acids, some other foods can help clean and polish teeth as well. Strawberries, in addition to being full of nutrients, contain a type of acid that’s helpful for whitening teeth; just be careful not to overdo it. A handful a day is plenty. Fibrous, crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, celery and broccoli act as natural scrubbers when chewed- the texture of these foods helps polish away any residue or debris on the teeth. They’re a good way to end a meal, and an excellent choice for a midday snack.

Keep Sugar-Free Gum Handy

Chewing helps to stimulate saliva flow in your mouth, which can be especially helpful after a meal to keep your teeth free of stain-causing residue or bits of food. Look for the ADA seal on a pack of gum to make sure it’s been approved by the American Dental Association as being beneficial for dental health.

If you want a little extra help keeping your smile white, check with your dentist about teeth whitening procedures available to patients!