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How to remove coffee and tea stains safely from your teeth

Choose your poison: Coffee, tea or cola.

How can you remove coffee and tea stains from your teeth? And how might you prevent such stains in the first place?
Coffee Drinking by Juanedc - Cafecito - Creative Commons Licensing

OK, none of those are actually poisons. Instead, they are popular beverages, especially in their caffeinated forms. Hot or cold, plain or flavored, our favorite daily drinks usually fall into this category.

Caffeinated or decaf, these beverages may offer a pick-me-up, but they can also wreak havoc on a beautiful smile. Most coffee beans, tea leaves, and even colas can stain teeth yellow or even brown – just like tobacco. The more you sip, the more they stain.

Other factors can cause teeth to become discolored. Some antibiotics and other medications can do so, along with certain allergies, extreme fevers, sudden metabolic shifts, and failure to practice proper dental hygiene. Most people notice their teeth naturally darkening with age as well.

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How can you remove coffee and tea stains from your teeth?

Dental whitening products are available almost everywhere. Some tooth-whitening methods remove deep stains, while others merely clean up surface discoloration.

Over-the-counter offerings can be found at pharmacies and discount stores. Whitening toothpastes and gels are marketed to consumers who hope to brighten their smiles. Many of these are simply applied to toothbrushes, with instructions usually suggesting extended brushing times to allow the products to work more effectively.

Special tooth-whitening kits may include a plastic bleaching tray, which fits over the teeth, somewhat like an athletic mouthguard. A whitening paste or gel is placed in the tray, so that your teeth will soak in it while you wear the tray for several minutes each day. Custom-molded kits may be produced from dental impressions for ideal fit, but standard rubbery ones may be purchased for a lot less.

A simpler method of tooth-whitening employs flexible adhesive strips, which are peeled and placed directly on the teeth. These contain a similar bleaching solution.

Most of these products actually work reasonably well. Consumers report promising results, as their teeth become several shades lighter. However, in-home treatments usually must be repeated at least once a year.

Many people opt for professional dental whitening services.

Most dental insurance policies do not cover these cosmetic treatments, however, and they can be quite costly. In-office whitening methods range from bleaching trays (made from personalized dental moulds) to infrared tooth-by-tooth whitening to the application of porcelain veneers to the patient’s own teeth. According to marketers, if you really want a bright movie-star smile, then you need to be willing to pay Hollywood prices.

The prudent option, of course, is to prevent teeth from staining in the first place, as much as possible.

What can you do to prevent your teeth from staining?

Short of quitting caffeine cold-turkey, you can take a few simple steps to keep your drinks from ruining your smile. Consider these five tips for maintaining a shiny white-toothed smile.

  1. First, keeping your teeth sparkling clean is essential. Choose a whitening toothpaste. Most popular branded choices include baking soda.
  1. Make and keep regular dental cleaning appointments twice each year.
  1. If you like iced coffee or tea or dark sodas, use a straw. Sipping through a straw protects your front teeth from discoloration.
  1. Rinse your mouth with water after drinking darker beverages. Grab a glass or bottle of water, and swish it around in your mouth to clean your teeth. (Just be careful about swirling cold water on your teeth immediately after a hot beverage. If you didn’t have sensitive teeth before doing so, you surely would afterwards!)
  1. Whenever you can, brush your teeth soon after eating or drinking. This prevents a film from forming on the surface of the teeth, which contributes to discoloration.

A clean white smile projects confidence and success, in today’s society. People will go to great lengths to maintain this, but most will not give up their daily coffee, tea, or cola. As a result, popular tooth-whitening products and services will continue to thrive. Perhaps those who manufacture such items are sporting the brightest smiles of all!

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