Natural Ways to a Bright White Smile
Dr Lewis Ehrlich
Around 70% of patient’s that come through our practice express concern about the colour of their teeth. A white, bright smile is often considered a sign of good health and can give an individual enormous self-confidence. The countless whitening toothpaste, strips and gadgets on the market show just how much of a priority a bright smile is to so many. Unfortunately, a lot of DIY products have minimal benefits and can often result in sensitive teeth and more issues down the line. As a result, more and more people are looking for natural alternatives for tooth whitening.
The low down on tooth discoloration
Teeth become discoloured, turning yellow or brown due to stains that develop on both the outer surface of teeth (the enamel) as well as deeper in the tooth structure. Underneath the white enamel is a darker layer called dentine, which can become more visible when enamel gets thinner.
Some of the most common reasons for stained teeth and thinning enamel are: smoking cigarettes; drinking teas and coffee; red wine; consuming refined sugars and acidic foods and beverages; acid reflux; tooth grinding; antibiotic use; excessive fluoride when you are a child; mouth-breathing; ageing; and dry mouth.
Managing expectations with whitening
Everyone has a different whitening potential. Some people can only whiten their teeth very marginally, whilst others whiten their teeth very quickly and effectively. This is important to remember before creating expectations that cannot be met.
Ways to maintain the colour of your teeth and whiten them naturally
- Avoid foods and habits that expose the teeth to dark compounds found in products such as coffee, tea, wine, green juices and tobacco.
- Practice good oral hygiene. This means brushing and flossing daily to protect against tooth decay and gum problems. Regular 6 monthly cleans will also ensure your teeth are cleaned and receiving the professional care they need to avoid tooth decay and gum disease. If you consume a lot of coffee, smoke cigarettes or consume a lot of pigmented foods, professional cleans may need to be performed more frequently.
- Consume foods that are high in vitamins and minerals. This not only helps to promote healthy teeth, gums, it also assists with keeping teeth white. Minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D, vitamin B and iron are all important for good tooth and gum health as well as eating a diet rich in good quality proteins, good fats (especially fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K) and a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.
- Practice oil pulling. Oil pulling is the practice of swishing oil extracted from edible sources in the mouth in order to cleanse it of bacteria, fungus, and other disease-causing organisms. It is thought that the oil collects these noxious agents during the process and rids the oral cavity of them when expelled. To conduct oil pulling therapy, adults generally take one tablespoon of oil (children under the age of 15 can take one teaspoon) into the mouth and swish it around their teeth for 10 to 15 minutes before expelling it. The therapy should be performed on an empty stomach in the morning and followed by brushing.
- Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda. Mix a small amount of hydrogen peroxide with a small amount of baking sodain order to make a paste that helps remove more plaque from teeth. Baking soda can be very abrasive to the teeth so be careful that you have enough hydrogen peroxide mixed into the baking soda and always use a baking soda with the smallest particle size possible.
- Activated charcoal. There are many toothpastes on the market that have showed some promise for tooth whitening. But be aware that if there are fillings present on the front teeth, they can stain the margin between the filling and tooth surface giving the teeth a grey appearance which is difficult to remove.
NOTE: it is important to remember that very few comprehensive studies have been done on the effectiveness of natural products when it comes to tooth whitening. Thus, much of the evidence is largely anecdotal. Always consult your dentist before proceeding with any whitening options.
Dr Lewis Ehrlich is a holistic dentist at Sydney Holistic Dental Centre
For oral health updates follow @doctor.lewis
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