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By: Maggie Young

We all want that glowing smile, but it’s hard to sift through the fads out there when it comes to teeth whitening. It can be tricky to decipher between what works and what could be damaging to your teeth in the long run. Luckily, these gimmick-free tips from dental hygienist Alex Kovarik address overall oral health as well as whitening and brightening — just in time for all those holiday photos!

Try to Limit These Stain-Inducing Beverages (or Drink Them Through a Straw!)

Unfortunately, most of the crowd-pleasing beverages tend to stain teeth. This includes coffee, tea, red wine and dark-colored sodas. “These beverages cause extrinsic (surface) stains when the pigment from the drink attaches to the film (plaque) that builds up on enamel,” says Kovarik. “Some of these beverages also contain tannins, which causes a yellow hue to be left behind on teeth.” In order to enjoy your beloved coffee, wine and soda, try using a straw if possible. This allows you to enjoy your drink without it hitting your teeth and causing any potential stains.

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Upgrade Your Brushing Habits and Home Care Routine

A simple and effective way to improve your brushing techniques is to invest in an electric toothbrush. Use it twice per day for two minutes each session. Of course, flossing is a must too. If that’s not your thing, you can use a waterpik in place of flossing. Either way, it should happen daily. “If you do not practice proper home care (brushing and flossing), plaque and calculus will build up on your teeth,” said Kovarik, “Plaque and calculus have a yellow hue, causing your teeth to look less white.” To go above and beyond, you can also brush or rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking to remove leftover residue.

how to whiten your teeth naturally

Cut Down on Plaque and Stains with Regular Dental Visits

You should get to your dentist for a professional cleaning every six months for a thorough teeth cleaning session. Kovarik notes that having regular cleanings will help keep your teeth white because the hygienist will be able to remove plaque, calculus and surface stains. In addition, your hygienist will also be able to give you personalized home care advice to help you keep your whitest smile. 

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Consult Your General Dentist About Holistic Whitening Fads

Kovarik notes that she doesn’t recommend holistic whitening treatments as many of them are not evidence-based treatments that are backed by science and they can ultimately cause damage to your teeth. “For example, brushing with baking soda is a popular technique for whitening, but baking soda is very abrasive and can damage your enamel over time.” It’s best to get professional advice from your general dentist before trying out a new method that you hear about or see online.