Teeth Whitening 101: How To Actually Get Whiter Teeth IRL

6 affordable ways to make your smile whiter and brighter, starting right now…
Teeth Whitening 101: How To Actually Get Whiter Teeth IRL
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CosmoBy Cosmo -

Whether you woke up flawless or felt a little meh, chances are you clocked how your teeth were looking in the bathroom mirror. Bedhead, pillow marks and your current skin situation can take a backseat – your smile is a natural, significant attention-grabber, which is probably why you only see whiter-than-white grins promoted on Instagram.

But how do you go about brightening up your teeth naturally, without the filters or veneers? Well together with Colgate, we're here to present you a handy how-to, from the unusual foodie culprits causing staining to the simple bathroom-shelf swap that could make all the difference to your toothy first impressions…

POLISH UP YOUR ACT

61% of 16-24-year-olds* are cynical about the efficacy of colour-correcting toothpastes and at-home whitening strategies, and while there are definitely some dodgy quick fixes and teeth-whitening myths doing the rounds, this doesn’t mean that you should give up hope altogether of getting a brighter smile. Dr Sehgal explains how modern whitening toothpastes can combat yellowing:

“Over-the-counter whitening toothpastes, and some containing safely formulated active charcoal, can be mildly effective at reducing surface staining. They generally contain very small abrasive particles that help to lift off stains from the tooth’s surface.”

Try Colgate Max White Charcoal Toothpaste to fulfil your Instagrammable charcoal needs and Colgate Max White Expert Anti-Stain to both reduce yellowing and remove dark stains on teeth. The dual-action formula contains hydrogen peroxide, the same deep-penetrating whitening ingredient that can be found in many professional whitening treatments.

COLGATE MAX WHITE EXPERT ANTI-STAIN TOOTHPASTE

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COLGATE MAX WHITE CHARCOAL TOOTHPASTE

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But remember that discipline wins in the whitening department. Dr Sehgal emphasises that twice-daily brushing, ideally with an electric toothbrush for the recommended time (the NHS says two minutes), plus flossing, is the best route to a beaming grin.

DIAL DOWN THE TAKEAWAYS

Not just for your bank balance or general health but also because common food colouring additives in takeaways (particularly curries) are renowned for causing discolouration. Dr Peta Leigh of Elleven Dental highlights that “soy sauce and turmeric are also classic causes of staining”. Opting for lighter-coloured dishes will help to prevent stains binding to your tooth enamel, as will drinking water with meals and gently swilling it around your mouth after eating. Just go easy on those turmeric lattes if, like 68% of Brits*, you’re concerned about yellowing.

SIT OUT THE TEA ROUND

If you’re a “five brews a day” type, you are our people, but unfortunately tea is renowned for its double whammy impact where staining is concerned. Dentist Dr Surina Sehgal (@thefoodie_dentist) confirms that drinking several builder’s cups a day is likely to make yellowing worse, not only due to the stain-causing tannins found in tea, but also because of its acidity, which causes enamel erosion over time and gradually exposes the yellow dentine layer below.

RECONSIDER YOUR COFFEE ORDER

Given the name, you’d think that a flat white would have far less staining potential than a long black, but think again — the same pigments are present in a coffee with milk as in a black coffee. But one simple hack could allow you to get your daily hit of survival juice without the high discolouration risk...

USE AN ECO STRAW

Dr Sehgal advocates drinking with an eco straw. “It will help to stop liquids from touching your teeth, therefore reducing staining.” Just wait for your tea or coffee to cool down, or better still get it on ice.

DON’T ASSUME THAT LIGHTER MEANS BRIGHTER

As with coffee and tea, choosing the “white” option at the pub won’t necessarily benefit your teeth. That’s because, in a cruel twist, white wine can stain teeth just as much as red wine can, due to its acidity which can cause enamel damage and discolouration in the long run (just like your favourite cuppa). So, alternate fizz or wine with water, for both sobriety and anti-stain benefits.

*Research carried out by Colgate.

H/T Cosmo UK

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