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It’s comforting to know that our Ooltewah TN family dentistry offers teeth whitening as part of our cosmetic dentistry services, but there are things that you can do to minimize the impact of stains and discoloration before this is needed to restore your pearly white smile. This month’s blog is dedicated to answering frequently asked questions about teeth whitening…

Why do teeth stain?

ooltewah tn teeth whitening

Teeth become yellow or gray for a variety of reasons that may be behavioral or simply the effects of erosion of the enamel over time allowing more of the color of the dentin to show through.

How can I maintain the whiteness of my teeth?

There are a few different things you can do to keep your natural smile looking it’s best. You’ve no doubt heard the expression “You are what you eat…”

Turns out, this is true, at least when it comes to the coloration of your teeth.

Because your teeth are porous, they naturally absorb the liquids that you drink. Avoid consumption of or exposure to products that are known to stain teeth, such as coffee, tea, sodas, grape or cranberry juice, popsicles, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, tomato sauce, fruits and berries (blueberries, blackberries, cherries, pomegranates, etc.), and beets.

Making some adjustments can minimize the impact of these foods and beverages, including swishing your mouth with water after eating or drinking something (or, if practical, brushing and rinsing immediately after consuming), adding milk to coffee to lighten it’s color, choosing green tea over black tea, choosing light colored sodas, drinking apple juice instead of grape or cranberry juice, avoiding popsicles with dark coloring, switching to light-colored or creamy sauces over deeply colored sauces, adding a lighter vinegar to salads, and adding greens like lettuce and broccoli that create a film on your teeth to prevent staining from occurring. You can also use a straw so the liquid from beverages that stain bypasses your front teeth.

Foods like beets are packed with good nutrients, but they stain everything they touch. You don’t need to skip foods high in antioxidants and vitamins that your body needs just to avoid staining teeth. Research suggests that gum disease accelerates and is potentially more severe in people with poor nutrition.

You DO want to consider eliminating sodas because of the artificial sugar and acid, which are terrible for the enamel on your teeth. Foods high in carbohydrates, sugars, and starches greatly contribute to the production of plaque acids that attack the tooth enamel. “Energy drinks” can erode enamel, so drinking water during workouts is a better alternative.

The color of a drink does not always dictate the full extent to which it can stain teeth. The dark, rich color of red wine makes it an obvious culprit, but white wine actually contains more damaging acid

What else can I do to keep my teeth white?

We recommend brushing your teeth at least twice daily and flossing at least once daily. Use a whitening toothpaste once a week only to remove surface stains, using your regular toothpaste the rest of the time. 

Are All Stained Teeth the Same?

Whitening may be more effective on yellowish teeth than brownish-colored teeth. Grayish-hue or purple-stained teeth present the biggest challenge. Blue-gray staining can require months of treatments. In some cases, veneers, bonding, or crowns may present a better choice than bleaching. It’s also important to note that teeth whitening is not permanent as patients may expose their brightened teeth to the same foods and beverages that stained their teeth in the first place. A touch-up treatment in 6 months or after a year or two may be needed.

Can a Cosmetic Dental Procedure Whiten my Teeth?

Certainly! Tedford Family Dentistry helps our patients restore their gorgeous smiles with procedures such as teeth whitening, dental implants, dental veneers, cosmetic fillings, and contouring the shape of teeth.

Our professionally applied products meet ADA guidelines for safety and effectiveness. The first step to ensuring safe and effective us is a professional consultation. Call us at (423) 238-8887 to arrange a cosmetic dental appointment at our office at 9380 Bradmore Lane, Suite 108, Ooltewah TN 37363.


Photo: © Catalin205 / 123RF Stock Photo

Blog © 2019 Tedford Family Dentistry: Tedford Keith DDS | Ooltewah TN 37363

Published in Blog

Chattanooga Preventive Dentistry

Chattanooga Preventive Dentistry Eating for Healthy Gums and TeethPart of our mission for Chattanooga Preventive Dentistry is encouraging and educating patients to achieve a more balanced, healthy life in general. Poor nutrition affects oral health in ways that may not seem as obvious as usual culprits of gum disease or cavities. 

Eating for Healthy Gums and Teeth

Foods that can Damage Teeth and Gums

You’ve probably already guessed what we are going to say. The American Dental Association (ADA) has promoted the message for years: Junk Food is bad for you and your teeth. Sugars are easily the arch-nemesis of many a dentist. Cake, cookies, candies, milk, and other sugary foods may taste delicious but these can cause tooth decay. Starchy foods like pretzels and potato chips aren’t good for teeth either. The longer these carbohydrates stay on the teeth, the more damage is done.

Non-Food Consumables that can Damage Teeth and Gums

This time of year, a lot of people get a cough. Cough drops may contribute to tooth decay. The next time you have one in your mouth, run your tongue over the front of your teeth and you can feel it leaving a coating. The same concept applies to lollipops, hard candies, and mints. 

More Fruits and Vegetables = Nutritious Diets

More nutritious choices can include raw vegetables, fruits, plain yogurt, and non-microwave popcorn. Other nutrient-dense foods include salmon, seaweed, garlic, shellfish, potatoes, liver, sardines, blueberries, and egg yolks. Studies show these foods contain powerful antioxidants, can help us lose weight, lower blood pressure, and help to fight cancer. Potatoes can be very filling while also high in potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese, plus vitamin C and most B vitamins. Make lean protein choices, such as lean beef, skinless poultry, and fish. Try and vary your protein choices to include eggs, beans, peas, and legumes, too. Fortified soy drinks and tofu, canned salmon, almonds and dark green leafy vegetables all help to promote strong teeth and bones. Phosphorus, found in eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts, and beans is good for strong teeth. Vitamin C promotes gum health, so eat plenty of citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and spinach. 

Strategies for Better Nutrition for Improved Oral Health

It’s easy enough to grasp what’s good or bad for us, but how are we to actually put better eating habits to work? There are a few suggestions you may want to try if you’ve always wanted to eat better but weren’t sure how to make it happen…

  • Limit sugar to part of a complete meal rather than as snacks throughout the day. A sweet dessert immediately following the entrée is the best time. Why? Because mealtime usually means increased saliva in the mouth, which always makes it easier to wash food particles away from the teeth. Swallowing a beverage at mealtime amplifies this process.
  • Substitute cheese for snacks instead of sugary, sticky and chewy foods. Snacks like raisins, dried figs, granola bars, oatmeal or peanut butter cookies, jelly beans, caramel, honey, molasses, and syrup all tend to stick to teeth, whereas cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss, and other aged cheeses at least trigger the production of saliva to help wash food particles away.
  • Substitute water instead of milk, formula, juice, or soda. Even milk contains sugar; water doesn’t. Adding more water aids in washing away food clinging to teeth. Some sports and energy drinks contain a lot of sugar, as you’d expect.
  • Reduce the frequency of snacking to two or three times per day. That’s more important than how much is eaten per snacking session, so remember it is frequency rather than quantity. Frequent bouts of snacking, without brushing teeth after, create more opportunities for bacteria to grow, increasing the likelihood of plaque developing on teeth and around gums.
  • Sometimes the best way to make sure you eat better is to make better decisions at the grocery store. Look for foods that come unsweetened or sugar-free. Foods with the sugar substitute xylitol can potentially help to prevent cavities.
  • Check the sugar content in everything you eat or drink before buying -- spaghetti sauce, cereal, and canned fruit may be loaded with a lot of sugar.
  • While reducing unhealthy foods from your diet, add more of the ones that are better for you. Good sources of calcium like broccoli and yogurt add calcium to your diet. Calcium, as we know, is good for strengthening bones, including the teeth.
  • When all else fails and you backslide on your old dietary habits, continue to use fluoride and brush and floss teeth every day to reverse tooth decay. A fluoride mouthwash also helps.
  • Get kids in the habit of brushing between meals and flossing at least once a day. If no toothbrush is available during the day, rinse the mouth with water several times to at least remove those pesky particles between teeth and below the gum line.
  • Beware of kids’ foods loaded with sugar like many breakfast cereals, trying a whole-grain cereal instead. 

How to Transition to a Healthy Eating Lifestyle

How do you get the family to skip candy, cookies, and cake to instead munch on kale? Follow a process to gradually wean yourself of these unhealthy foods and replace them with healthier alternatives. It is important to always replace bad food with healthy food that you enjoy. For example, eat fruits as snacks, drink water instead of soda, eat whole grain bread instead of white bread, add steamed greens to dinner, focus on poultry and seafood while limiting intake of red meats, make homemade pizza instead of ordering, and snack on nuts like unsalted peanuts or raw almonds instead of potato chips. Berries can offer a sweet substitute to satisfy sweet cravings instead of sugar-loaded chocolate candy.

Regardless of how it is achieved, fruits and vegetables need to make up half of what is eaten daily, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You don’t have to become a vegetarian to eat better, but you’ll end up healthier the more you transition away from sugary foods and starches to dishes that grow out of the ground instead of coming in a can. With these healthy eating guidelines, you can reduce your risk of enamel erosion and cavities to keep your smile looking healthier, plus you may just live longer too. 


Photo: © Evgenya Amanenko / 123RF Stock Photo

Blog © 2018 Tedford Family Dentistry: Tedford Keith DDS Ooltewah TN 37363

Published in Blog