Having a healthy, bright smile is a simple way to put your best face forward, but keeping teeth looking their best isn’t always easy. Many everyday foods and drinks can change the color of your teeth. Bleaching, either through at-home products or at the dentist’s office, is the only way to truly whiten teeth, although a good professional cleaning can remove many stains. But you can take a preventive approach, as well: in addition to bleaching sessions and trips to the hygienist, some everyday food choices can help you keep things white.
1. Promising produce
If we ever needed yet another reason to eat our veggies, here it is. “Crunchy vegetables have a certain mechanical cleansing action and therefore help to remove sticky debris from teeth,” says Walter Vogl, a Toronto-based dentist. With less sticky debris hanging around, there are fewer chances of those surface stains setting. So load up your grocery cart with carrots, celery, anise, radishes, peppers and any other crisp vegetables that you like to munch on.
2. Goodness of gum
“Chewing gum has two beneficial actions,” says Dr. Vogl. “It helps to clean teeth mechanically by removing debris, and it stimulates production of saliva, which increases your saliva’s ability to neutralize acid and remineralize your enamel,” thereby strengthening teeth. Dr. Vogl recommends looking for gum for that contains Sorbitol, to give your teeth the best chewing experience possible. “Sorbitol has a therapeutic anti-bacterial action, which helps inhibit decay-causing bacteria.” But if you’re in a bind and the only option is sugary regular gum, he’s not too worried. “The sugar in gum dissolves within a few minutes and after that the gum is essentially sugar-free.”
3. Cheese, please
Many of us have a love/hate relationship with cheese: We love the taste, but hate the calories. But Dr. Vogl gives us another reason to visit the cheese plate. “Cheese speeds the neutralization of acid and remineralisation of enamel,” he explains. Less damage to our enamel equals less discolouration. For instance, he says, “wine and cheese is a good mix,” as while wine is acidic (and bad for teeth), the cheese will counteract that effect. And let’s not forget that cheese is high in calcium and phosphorus, both very good for us. So go ahead and indulge—doctor’s orders!
4. Water world
Is there anything that water can’t do? Okay, technically it’s not going to whiten your teeth in the way a bleach kit will, but it will contribute to excellent oral health. “Your saliva’s ability to neutralize and remineralize depends on proper salivary gland cell function,” Dr. Vogl says, “so drinking water helps keep your teeth healthy on a very basic level, by ensuring that cells are properly hydrated.”
Want a simpler way to remember these tips? If you’re trying to keep your teeth as white as possible, without any additional intervention, here’s a good rule of thumb: Darker, more acidic foods typically cause more staining, so choose the opposites to keep your smile beaming.