Teeth naturally start losing whiteness over time, becoming yellowed or grayish and dingy. If you regularly drink staining liquids, like coffee, tea or red wine, or if you are a current or former smoker, you'll probably notice even more discoloration. At-home whitening toothpastes, strips or trays can help, but there are other things you can do to help keep your teeth looking their brightest and prevent further discoloration.
Change Your Toothbrush
It's easy to overlook replacing your toothbrush regularly, and you might not notice how worn its getting since you use it every day. Aim to replace your toothbrush at least once every three months. Toss it sooner if you've used it while sick or if the bristles are looking worn down or bent. When your toothbrush has passed its useful lifespan it's not cleaning your teeth properly, and the discoloration you're noticing might simply be surface stains or tartar buildup that can improve with a fresh toothbrush.
Brush Your Tongue
If you normally neglect brushing your tongue or just give it a quick swipe, start paying more attention to it. Brushing your tongue thoroughly helps remove bacteria that are a common cause of bad breath, but it also prevents those bacteria from lingering to stain your teeth. If you normally use a hard-bristled toothbrush, pick up a softer one for your tongue to avoid irritation. Start at the back of your tongue and pull your brush forward in long, firm strokes. Make sure to rinse your toothbrush after each stroke so you aren't rubbing bacteria and food particles back into your tongue.
Change Your Diet
Everyone knows vegetables and fruits should make up a large part of their diet since they're filled with nutrients. But snacking on raw fruits and veggies is also good for your teeth. Crunching down on carrots, cauliflower, apples and other crunchy foods helps remove plaque buildup that can lead to staining. This is because chomping down on crunchy foods forces your mouth to produce more saliva, which neutralizes acids and helps rinse away stain-causing debris and bacteria. Chewing sugar-free gum is another good way to boost saliva production for its whitening boost.
Rinse Your Mouth
While it's best to brush your teeth after every time you eat or drink anything other than water, that's not always practical. When you can't brush, rinse your mouth out with plain water to prevent staining and tooth damage. This is particularly important after drinking dark juices, coffee or tea. Make sure to rinse after eating highly acidic foods, like citrus fruits or tomatoes, as well. The acids can erode your enamel making it easier for stains to settle.
Sometimes simple changes or home whitening kits just aren't enough to get the results you want. If you've tried at-home solutions and find your teeth are still looking undesirably yellow or gray, talk to your dentist about in-office cosmetic dentistry procedures to whiten your teeth.