The smile… the universal way we communicate health, beauty, friendliness, confidence, success, acceptance. It’s no wonder that we all want a healthy smile.
Tooth whitening commercials and dental treatments are all too eager to give us one of those smashingly white smiles we see on all the ads on the internet, TV and in magazines.
But what are the drawbacks of these cosmetically generated white smiles? How to whiten teeth naturally is the focus of this series.
We will address the risks of commercial whitening strategies in an upcoming article.
This is the first article in a series we will publish on how to have whiter teeth naturally without destroying your enamel. (Yes, there is a very real risk of permanent enamel damage if we attempt to whiten our teeth unwisely.)
However, in today’s discussion we want to clearly lay down what we consider the first step to having a naturally whiter smile.
We find the following story very helpful in bringing this first step into clarity.
The analogy of the leaking boat…
Let’s say you are in a small row boat in the middle of a lake. You look down and notice that there is a drain hole in the bottom of the boat and the plug to the hole isn’t in place. In other words, the boat is taking on water fast!
There is a bucket on the boat as well as the plug to plug the hole.
Which do you do first, begin bailing out water with the bucket or put the plug in place?
Of course, we all would answer this the same… Put the plug in place first to stop the boat from taking on more water, THEN begin bailing water out with the bucket.
So let’s turn our attention back to naturally whitening our teeth.
Which do you do first, apply whatever whitening technique you choose or figure out what habits you have that are causing your teeth to be less than pearly white?
So, the first step to having naturally whiter teeth is to make some simple changes to your daily habits that may be causing your teeth to discolor.
The First Step to Having Naturally Whiter Teeth
The first step is to identify what habits you have that are causing your teeth to discolor and either stop the habit or figure out a way to enjoy the habit without discoloring your teeth.
In this way, we are ‘plugging the hole in the boat’ first. Once we stop whatever habits we have that are staining our teeth, then we can shift our attention to bringing back the white of our pearly whites.
The Most Common Culprits that Cause Discoloration
There’s good news and bad news with this one…
The good news is it’s pretty easy to identify the main causes of what may be discoloring your teeth. The bad news is most of the culprits are well engrained or downright addictive habits.
In later articles in this series, we will cover strategies you can apply so you can ‘have your cake and eat it too’. In other words, what if we enjoy some of these habits that stain our teeth and still want a whiter smile?
We’ll cover strategies to help naturally whiten your teeth without destroying your enamel soon. For now, let’s stop the staining or at least figure out ways that we can enjoy the staining habit without the same negative impact on our teeth.
Top 4 Staining Culprits
By a longshot, these handful of habits are the most common reasons why teeth discolor.
Regularly drinking coffee stains teeth. Now, I can hear your internal coffee ‘Gollum’ screaming at me right now. So, keep reading as we will discuss easy strategies how to mitigate the risk of staining from coffee.
Let’s face it, these daily caffeinated drinks are dark and are the main culprits for discoloring our teeth.
3. Red wine
Starting to see a pattern here? Rich, dark colored drinks…
This goes without saying. Needless to say, if you are a regular smoker, your teeth aren’t the only part of your body that are being damaged. I know this is a tough habit to break. Thankfully once a person really, really decides to make the change, it’s rather easy.
How to stop common staining drinks from discoloring your teeth
Drink beer. Ok, just kidding! 🙂 (Although I’ve enjoyed beer in years past, neither of us chooses to drink beer these days.)
When drinking any staining drink, have a glass of water with you. That way, when you finish your cup/glass, you can take a mouthful of water and swish it around for 10-20 seconds to help clear the culprit of choice from sitting on your teeth.
You could even take sips of water after each sip of coffee/tea/wine. This would help even more to lower the time the staining drink impacts your teeth.
Another effective strategy is to become more conscious how you habitually drink. While this may seem strange, even the way we drink can be adapted to be healthier for us.
Quick side story to explain…
Last year, I was drinking a lot of homemade kefir. For those of you who don’t know kefir, it’s an acidic milk based drink similar to a thin yogurt. (After all, we do have a small farm with milk cows.)
At the time I was also experiencing tooth sensitivity on the outer (cheek) surface of my lower molars. I finally identified that the sensitivity was being caused by the way I was drinking my daily kefir smoothie.
I would take a big mouthful and prior to swallowing the big mouthful, I would allow the excess kefir to fill my lower cheeks kind of like a squirrel stores seeds. This habitual way I was drinking kefir (an acidic drink) was causing the sensitivity. (Incidentally, if you’re interested in learning more how acidic drinks can cause tooth decay, here’s an article that shares solutions how to stop acidic drinks from negatively impacting your teeth.)
So, I simply changed my habit and started taking smaller mouthfuls of kefir so I wouldn’t have to ‘squirrel cheek’ the excess and the sensitivity went away.
So, observe how you drink your coffee/tea/red wine.
Do you allow it to wash over your front teeth? Do you let it sit in your mouth before swallowing it?
Most importantly, can you figure out a way to take sips without having the drink continuously bathe your front teeth? Can you use a straw (iced tea)?
These are all good questions to stop the culprits causing most ‘less than white’ teeth.
Keep an eye in the coming weeks for our follow up articles on this common subject where we will detail the risks of whitening techniques and how to whiten your teeth naturally without destroying your teeth.
Now it’s your turn. What do you do to keep your smile whiter and brighter?