‘Tis the season for merriment, giving, and gatherings with loved ones – which usually means lots of delicious food and drinks! Red wine, mulled wine, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, holiday fruit punches, fruit pies, cranberry sauce, berries, and dishes made with curry spice, balsamic vinegar, tomato or soy sauces – you might find yourself indulging in some of the aforementioned foods and drinks more than usual lately, and you should enjoy them! But be aware that enjoying a lot of these types of richly pigmented foods will stain and discolor your teeth. No need to worry though, you can still enjoy your favorite holiday staples and smile confidently for the camera and your friends and family! Read on for our tips to keep your smile sparkling bright throughout the holidays.
Tips For A White Smile Through The Holidays
Brush and Floss Before & After
Rich color pigments from foods and drinks attach to the constantly-forming dental biofilm (or plaque) on our teeth, so coming into a holiday party with a freshly cleaned mouth and minimal plaque buildup will help minimize teeth staining. Be sure to floss in particular - those purplish stains often first appear in the crevices between our teeth.
And brush & floss thoroughly after you enjoy your festivities too, so that the stains don’t have a chance to settle in! Just rinse your mouth with water and wait at least 30 minutes after your last bite or sip to clean your teeth - consuming acidic foodstuffs leave tooth enamel porous and weakened, and it’s best to give the enamel a chance to begin to remineralize before you brush.
Drinking water between sips and bites of pigmented drinks and foods helps to rinse away those staining pigments, along with bacteria and food debris. Drinking fluoridated water helps remineralize your tooth enamel as well, making enamel stronger and more resistant to stains. Sipping on water throughout your busy holiday schedule helps keep your mouth moist and freshens your breath, too!
Snack on Vegetables & Cheeses
Cheeses and certain vegetables (particularly leafy greens) leave a protective barrier coating your teeth as you munch on them. Chewing also stimulates saliva production, which helps rinse away staining pigments, reduce the effects of acid, and remineralize tooth enamel. Noshing on fibrous veggies also helps to naturally scrub your teeth as you chew. Your best choices are hard cheeses and crunchy vegetables that are high fiber and low sugar vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and celery.
Use a Straw
Using a straw to drink your favorite dark beverages greatly limits the amount of liquid that will come in contact with your teeth, minimizing their staining potential.
Use Teeth Whitening Products
Whitening products like toothpastes, mouthwashes, and sugar-free whitening gum could be helpful if you frequently consume staining beverages or foods. These types of whitening products have modest and varied results compared to whitening (bleaching) treatments.
Consider a Teeth Whitening Treatment
Teeth whitening kits and treatments come in a wide range of strengths, and include at-home and professional options. The main differences between over-the-counter and professional whitening treatments are strength, cost, application and effectiveness.
At-home teeth bleaching treatments are much weaker compared with professional treatments, and will provide less obvious results, typically cost significantly less than professional treatments, and can usually only be applied to the front teeth.
Professional whitening treatments are typically custom-made for your teeth. Due to the use of custom-made trays, controlled application of the whitening agent and curing light, and the application of a protective barrier gel for your gums, professional whitening treatments can be used safely in much higher concentrations, for more dramatic results. Professional whitening can also target internal (intrinsic) tooth staining, while OTC products can only target surface (extrinsic) stains.
The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year – and the last thing you should be worrying about is a stained smile. Follow our tips for a bright, sparkling smile throughout the holidays, and beyond!