A less-than-white smile—think stained with shades of gray, yellow or brown—can instantly add years to your appearance. But, keeping your teeth as white as possible is one of the easiest ways to age-proof your smile.
Discoloration can be hard to prevent but it’s not impossible. There are things that you can limit or cut out that will lead to a brighter smile. “When it comes to your teeth, think anything that will stain a white shirt will stain your teeth. This includes tea, coffee, soda, grape and pomegranate juices, blueberries and chocolate. Even a porcelain cap can stain,” says New York cosmetic dentist Irwin Smigel, DDS. It’s important to prevent your teeth from staining with good, consistent oral hygiene: regular professional cleanings and flossing and brushing morning and night as well as 20 minutes after consuming any foods or drinks.
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The Different Shades of Darkness:
The result of long-term use of medications like antibiotics such as tetracycline. Grayness is difficult to remove because it stretches so deep within the tooth, which is why most dentists recommend covering it up with porcelain veneers.
The most commonly complained about type of staining, yellow stains are linked to both aging and stain-causing foods and drinks. Yellow discoloration responds well to bleaching. “If bleaching doesn’t work, veneers or bonding are good alternatives,” says Dr. Smigel.
Smoking and chewing tobacco can cause teeth to turn brown in color. In-office bleaching or veneers can help whiten teeth.
Not technically a shade of discoloration, white spots are the result of decalcification. While the spots aren’t harmful, they do signify a loss of minerals, which weakens the enamel. If not treated, they may turn brown and lead to tooth decay. The tooth should be remineralized with fluoride and the discoloration corrected with bonding or veneers.
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