by Alexandra Nicole Nuralam

The Best Ways to Whiten Your Teeth, According to a Dentist

Image via @chloeblnchrd

Everyone wants to know the secrets to getting whiter teeth and a brighter smile. The good news is that there are measures you can take to prevent further discolouration and restore your pearly whites. We check in with Malaysia-based dentist Dr Wong Joyin for dentist-approved tips on whitening teeth. Read on to learn whether teeth-whitening products really work and what habits to make (and break).

Do teeth-whitening products really work?

“In general, most teeth whitening products do work,” says Dr Joyin. “The level of efficacy would depend on the concentration of the active ingredient.”

Of course, in-office whitening procedures will be the most effective, he explains, as higher concentrations are carefully handled and applied to the teeth for the best results. Whereas teeth-whitening products sold over the counter in pharmacies and supermarkets are usually less effective comparatively due to the lower concentrations of the active ingredient, which is why they are safe for consumers to handle at home by themselves. “However, one must be careful about which products to purchase as there are many products that contain chemicals that may harm your teeth. It’s highly advisable to go and see a professional for any whitening procedures.”

Are there ways to whiten teeth naturally or prevent them from yellowing? What about DIY remedies?

“It has been said that eating strawberries can help whiten teeth but it is not clinically proven,” says Dr Joyin. In other words, don’t go chomping your way through strawberries in hopes of whitening your teeth!

The best ways to keep your teeth naturally white are to:

1. Practise good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day, regular flossing and rinsing with mouthwash.
2. See your dentist every 6 months for professional cleaning.
3. Avoid drinks like coffee and red wine, which can stain teeth.
4. Avoid tobacco products.
5. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables! Dr Joyin explains that the fibre may be able to remove a certain amount of plaque effectively as you chew.
6. Avoid sweet or sticky food as it can attract bacteria buildup, which causes teeth to become yellow and can even cause tooth decay.

Are in-office teeth-whitening procedures permanent? What are some ways to make the procedure’s effects last longer?

Just like everything else, in-office teeth whitening will wear off in time. “Even with regular cleaning, your teeth will still turn slightly yellow over time. So regular maintenance is important to keep your teeth white,” explains Dr Joyin.

As for how long treatments can last, he says it’s dependent on one’s daily habits, but it can last 6 months up to 1 year if well taken care of. Once you’re done with the procedure, your dentist usually will advise you to avoid coloured food and drinks for the first week after the in-office whitening. Rinse your mouth well or drink lots of water after each meal. An over-the-counter product can also help in lengthening the whitening effect, such as whitening home kits, pens or toothpaste.

What can we do to prevent coffee and tea from staining our teeth?

If you’re an avid coffee or tea drinker, this one’s for you. Dr Joyin recommends drinking coffee or tea with a straw, followed by rinsing the mouth with water.

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