The Dos and Don’ts of A Dental Diet
Having sparkly, white teeth is a goal many of us strive to achieve. When you turn on the TV, flip through a magazine, or even spend a night on the town, it seems like everyone has a bright, white smile. Thankfully, you can too! With a simple teeth whitening treatment from your dentist, you can start to see stains disappear right before your eyes. But here’s the tricky part: how do you maintain your pearly whites on a day-to-day basis after your treatments? And most importantly, can your diet influence the results of your treatment?
The short answer is: yes! After all, it’s likely those same foods, drinks, and harmful habits caused the discoloration in the first place. Avoiding certain products can help protect your teeth from reversing the effects of your teeth whitening treatment. Plus, it can help preserve your dental health! In many dental offices this is known as a “white diet” and following it can help to reduce the staining of your teeth (again!).
Understanding Why Your Teeth Become Stained
Your teeth are coated with enamel, which is vital in maintaining the integrity of your tooth. Loss of enamel is irreversible and can mean trouble for your teeth and gums. However, hiding just underneath your clear enamel is something known as dentin, the sensitive tissue that is highly susceptible to yellowing and decay. Which dentin is hard, bony, and makes up the bulk of your tooth, it can still be vulnerable to developing stains and yellowing. For this reason, it is essential to take precautions against things that may cause damage to these areas of your mouth.
Tooth discoloration is classified into three general categories:
- Extrinsic Stains. In the dental world, extrinsic discoloration refers to the yellowing of the external surface of your teeth. These are superficial stains that develop on the enamel and are typically caused by drinking coffee, red wine, or smoking tobacco. Thankfully, this is the simplest type of discoloration to treat, and it responds well to low-strength or at-home teeth whitening products.
- Intrinsic Stains. This term refers to internal stains of the teeth, just below the transparent enamel. In cases like this, the discoloration happens on the dentin, causing it to darken or yellow. Typically, it occurs when the enamel erodes, and the dentin is exposed to stain-causing bacteria. Intrinsic tooth staining is also linked to excessive fluoride exposure or tetracycline antibiotics taken by pregnant women or children younger than 8. These stains are harder to remove, and will usually require a professional bleaching treatment.
- Age-Related Stains. Almost everyone indulges in stain-causing foods, drinks, or habits at least once. These can cause intrinsic and extrinsic stains to develop gradually. As we age, our bones become weaker, and the enamel on your teeth can start to wear down. Additionally, the dentin behind your teeth yellows naturally as time passes, which – combined with worn down enamel – can cause your smile to appear discolored. In cases like this, veneers or dental crowns can be a helpful solution.
Foods to Avoid After A Dental Whitening
So you’ve taken the plunge, and you’ve scheduled a whitening appointment at your dental office. Soon enough, you’ll be able to fully appreciate the results of your teeth whitening treatment, whether it is a simple whitening or full-scale bleaching.
The type of treatment you need will depend on the kind of stains you have (see above), with a general whitening merely lifting the stains off while a bleaching chemically whitens. In any case, there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of restaining your teeth and helping to preserve the whitening treatment you received. One of the best ways to help keep your pearly whites white is by watching what you put in your mouth.
- Coffee is one of the number one culprits of stained teeth. The fact that many people consume coffee so frequently, combined with its acidic nature, gives it the most potential to wear down your tooth enamel and cause staining to occur. After a whitening treatment, you may want to replace the coffee with a clear, herbal tea – or put down the pot all together! In any case, both your teeth and gums will appreciate the reprieve.
- Soda is another incredibly caustic, sugary drink that can ultimately undo any improvement caused by a whitening. A good alternative is to switch to water, but if you must enjoy a soda, avoid amber colors and drink it with a straw!
- Red wine is notorious for its staining ability, whether it’s a white carpet or your white teeth. Its high acidity also contributes to its ability to cling to your enamel and cause discoloration. This rule isn’t reserved to just a full-bodied Cabernet, however, as even white wine can cause yellowing. It’s best to avoid alcohol altogether after a whitening treatment.
- Tomato sauce is another substance that has powerful staining abilities, and the red marinara sauce can be your teeth’s undoing if you are not careful. Tomatoes are very high in acid, and their bright red color can transfer onto your teeth.
- Blueberries can be a healthy snack, but their pigmentation can mean a fiasco for your freshly bleached teeth.
Keep in mind that these dietary changes don’t have to be permanent, though your teeth would thank you if they are! Wait a week to reintroduce these treats to your diet, so you don’t accidentally reverse any of the treatment.
Get a Brighter, Beautiful Smile With Tooth Whitening Services
At Acosta Dental Arts, PA, we understand that improving your smile can help to improve your quality of life. After all, nothing makes a better first impression than a radiant smile! While you can try natural treatments at home, a professional dental whitening is the best route to go if you want to achieve the best results.
Our North Palm Beach office offers a variety of teeth whitening solutions, including at-home options by brands like GLO™ Science and Opalescence Boost. If you require more powerful bleaching solutions, ask about our KöR Whitening Deep Bleaching™ System. Not sure what type of dental services are best for you? No problem! Contact us today at (561) 622-0301 to schedule your Free Smile Assessment with Dr. Adrian Acosta!