With age, it’s common for your teeth to stain or yellow. Certain foods or drinks, poor oral hygiene, and unhealthy habits — such as smoking — can also heighten the discoloration. The good news is that if your teeth aren’t as white as they used to be, there are numerous products on the market to help reduce tooth stains.

Today, whitening toothpaste is an easy and effective way to brighten your teeth from the comfort of your home. Let’s face it, with so many whitening products available, it can be confusing to know which one is right for you. The following tips can help you determine which whitening toothpaste to choose.

Selecting the Right Whitening Toothpaste

Over-the-counter whitening toothpastes are designed to remove discoloration by incorporating mild abrasives that scrub surface stains caused by red wine, sodas, coffee or smoking. Whitening toothpastes may also contain certain bleaching chemicals — such as hydrogen peroxide — to help break down stains while polishing your teeth. To achieve the benefits of a whitening toothpaste, you need to use it regularly over the course of several weeks.

Not all whitening toothpastes are created equal, however. In fact, recent studies suggest that increasingly popular charcoal toothpaste may cause more harm than good. While activated charcoal might help whiten your teeth temporarily, the ingredients used are too abrasive for everyday use. Harsh abrasives can wear down enamel — causing tooth sensitivity and even increasing the yellowing of the teeth if too much of the inner tooth is exposed.

Generally, it is best to purchase a whitening toothpaste that carries the American Dental Association’s seal of approval. This signifies that the product is safe and effective for daily use. If you’re unsure about which whitening toothpaste is right for you, always talk to your dentist for guidance.

Easy Ways to Prevent Tooth Stains

In addition to brushing with a whitening toothpaste, you can take steps to prevent tooth stains by:

  • Eliminating dark-colored foods and drinks — such as coffee and wine — from your diet
  • Quitting smoking
  • Drinking plenty of water — especially after meals — to dislodge food particles that cause stains
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of raw vegetables, fruits, lean protein and dairy to help strengthen enamel and prevent tooth stains
  • Practicing good daily dental hygiene, including brushing and flossing
  • Visiting your dentist twice a year for a professional cleaning

Professional Whitening Options

Whitening toothpaste is a great way to remove minor surface stains when used regularly. For severe discoloration, professional in-office whitening may be a better option. In-office teeth whitening solutions contain a much higher concentration of bleaching ingredients that allow patients to whiten their teeth safely and quickly under the direct care of their dentist. In some cases, patients can whiten teeth by several shades in as little as a lunch break.

Talk to your dentist about options for teeth whitening at your next visit to determine which whitening treatment is best for you.

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