Just like your skin, face and body, the smile can age with time. But, certain factors, especially discoloration—think gray, yellow or brown stains—can instantly add years to your appearance. “The color of your teeth is the number-one factor that ages a smile,” says New York cosmetic dentist Irene Grafman, DDS. Keeping your teeth as white as possible is one of the easiest ways to age-proof your smile.
Years of exposing teeth to stain-causing elements leads to discoloration. “As we age, our enamel wears, and the yellow or brown that shows begins to influence the shade of teeth,” explains Atlanta cosmetic dentist Ronald E. Goldstein, DDS. “Protecting tooth enamel is essential to keeping teeth as white and youthful-looking as possible.”
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Some factors that discolor the smile are unavoidable; others, particularly smoking and what you eat and drink can be avoided. Brushing your teeth with the right products after eating or drinking can help prevent stains and discoloration. “Professional scaling and polish, and bleaching can prevent staining. But, intrinsic discoloration cannot be prevented,” says New York cosmetic dentist Steven E. Roth, DMD.
How severe your discoloration is will determine how your dentist will fix it. A laser can be used to speed up the bleaching process and whiten your teeth faster. The most complained about stains are those that are yellow, which are linked to aging and certain foods, and they respond well to bleaching. New York cosmetic dentist Irwin Smigel, DDS, says, “If bleaching doesn’t work, veneers or bonding are the only alternatives.” Veneers rely on a thin shell of porcelain that is adhered to the tooth to disguise discoloration. Bonding uses tooth-colored resin placed over the teeth to conceal stains. Both provide long-lasting results. Regular use of at-home strips or custom trays will help, too.