According to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center oral health professionals and the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA), bleaching is an effective method for whitening teeth, especially to lighten stains, but can cause some patients to experience short-term side effects such as sensitivity. For more over-zealous users, especially ones reliant on at home whitening methods, there could be permanent damage such as enamel erosion.
“For many individuals who have had good results with either dentist directed or over-the-counter whitening techniques, a significant concern is how to keep the teeth white after bleaching,” said Raymond Garrison, D.D.S., M.S., professor and chairman of the Wake Forest Baptist Department of Dentistry. “We now know that there are foods that actually help to keep your teeth white rather than stain them. In fact, it may help patients avoid the time and expense of whitening retreatment.”
Some foods that help to keep the coveted gleaming smile include:
- Apples, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, celery and other firm fruits and vegetables. These foods scrub teeth while being chewed and help to promote the flow of saliva which neutralizes acids and protects teeth. Strawberries and oranges in particular work as teeth polishing tools.
- Dairy products, especially cheeses and items high in calcium, also assist in keeping teeth white. The lactic acid that is contained in these products actually helps to prevent decay. Harder cheeses also help to remove food particles left on teeth.
Stain culprits include; blueberries, red and white wine, soy sauce, tobacco, coffee, tea and soft drinks.
If an individual plans on bleaching or using teeth whitening kits in the future, Garrison and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend the following steps:
- Visit an oral health care professional before whitening to discuss what method is best for the individual’s teeth. Remember that fillings and bonding that have been done to teeth previously will not be affected by whitening.
- If the in-office bleaching method done within a dentist’s office is used, it may require more than one session. The process, with the use of lasers or a special light to stimulate the whitening agent, should take 30 minutes to an hour.
- If the individual prefers an at-home-kit, dentists recommend whitening toothpastes that have the ADA seal. For whitening strips, paint-on products, gels or trays, make sure they have the ADA seal that will ensure that the levels of hydrogen peroxide contained in the product are low.
For more information on oral health, visit http://www.wakehealth.edu/Dentistry/Specialties.htm.