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How to Prevent Dental Staining

Staining on your teeth makes your teeth look yellow and dingy.  A stained smile can give the appearance of tobacco use even when you’ve never smoked.  Yellow or darkened teeth also make you look old by mimicking the appearance of aging.

Why to Fight Staining

As we age, some of the natural changes in the teeth over time causes them to look yellower or darker.  Enamel is the only structure in the teeth that is white in color.  The underlying structure (dentin) is darker yellow.  As we age, two things happen that make the teeth look more yellow.

First, the enamel becomes thinner, and as it thins, it becomes more translucent.  This translucency lends to the yellowing by showing through more of the underlying yellow dentin.  The second thing that happens is that the dentin becomes thicker and more opaque.  This makes it more yellow than its initial state.

Because yellowing is natural over time, you should work to prevent the accumulation of external stains, which compounds the effect of darkened teeth.

How to Prevent Staining

There are three important factors to consider as you work to prevent staining on the teeth.

1.  Protect Your Enamel

As we explained in the previous section, thinning enamel makes the teeth look yellower.  Weak or damaged enamel is more likely to pick up external stains.  In an effort to prevent stains, you should work diligently to protect your enamel.  You should avoid acidic foods and drinks, which can remove enamel through acid erosion.  You also need to protect against any nighttime habits like clenching or grinding by wearing a mouthguard.

Strengthen your enamel by using fluoride in your oral hygiene products or other important ingredients that re-harden (remineralize) enamel, keeping it healthy and strong.

2. Avoid Dark-Colored Substances

As we eat and drink dark foods and beverages, or use any dark substance in the mouth, tiny pigmented particles stick to the enamel surface.  The more coffee you drink, for instance, the more stains you will collect.  If you smoke or use tobacco products.  The more you use, the darker your teeth will be.

The opposite is also true.  If you do not eat, drink, or use dark substances, then you will not accumulate as much external staining.  This is, unfortunately, the most effective and most difficult way to stop teeth staining.  It is effective because you eliminate the cause of stains.  It is the most difficult because most of these habits are something people enjoy.  Who wants to give up their morning coffee or relaxing glass of red wine at night?  And many people are unable to kick the habit of smoking or tobacco use.  We are not telling you that you can no longer enjoy your favorite things.  We are simply saying that this is a simple way to prevent teeth staining.

3. Consistently Clean Your Teeth

An important way to prevent the accumulation of stains is to consistently clean your teeth well.  This includes both your home care and your professional teeth cleanings at the dentist.  You can polish away surface stains on a daily basis by using a whitening toothpaste.  It’s mild abrasive texture acts as a sanding and polishing tool.  Make sure that you select a whitening toothpaste with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Approval.  This means that the formula has been tested for safety and shows no tendency to remove healthy enamel.

Before using a whitening toothpaste, consult with your dentist.  Patients with sensitive teeth, receding gums, or exposed roots should not use whitening toothpastes.

You can improve the effect of whitening toothpaste by using it with an electric toothbrush.  (Again, check with your dentist first.)

During your professional teeth cleanings with Nancy and Phyllis, the final step is a polishing with a gritty paste that leaves the teeth shiny and smooth.  This polishing step not only removes external stains; it also leaves the enamel surface glossy and less likely to pick up more stains.

What to Do for Stained Teeth

Is it too late for you to prevent dental staining?  If your teeth are already yellow or darkly stained, there is still hope for a bright, white smile.  There are very few stains that professional teeth whitening cannot reverse.  (Some people have deep, internal stains that are less responsive to teeth whitening.  Dr. Ann has experience treating all types of teeth staining, and she will discuss different treatment options to help you achieve the smile you want.)

For the best success in reversing dental staining, we recommend that you begin with a professional teeth cleaning.  This gets your teeth to a “clean slate” state.  Phyllis and Nancy will remove any superficial stains so that the whitening product is most effective.

Dr. Ann and her dental assistants will make you a set of custom-fitted teeth whitening trays from a perfect replica of your teeth.  This custom fit is essential to achieving the best results as it keeps the whitening product in contact with your teeth for the prescribed amount of time.

We call it custom whitening because we can tailor the fit of the trays and the strength of the whitening gel to your specific goals.  When you follow Dr. Ann’s customized instructions for your whitening process, you can expect to see noticeable, sustainable results.  She will even give you tips on maintaining your white smile while you continue to enjoy your morning coffee.

More Questions about Dental Staining?

Call Designer Smiles today to schedule a professional teeth cleaning with Nancy and Phyllis or a consultation with Dr. Ann.  We love creating beautiful smiles that our patients are proud to show off!