Are you envious of celebrities’ sparkling smiles? We are often overwhelmed by pictures of people showing off their snow-white teeth. Many people will object to the aesthetic value of such sparkling, obviously fake white teeth, but no one can deny the fact that cosmetic dentistry is gradually changing the accepted standards for a “beautiful smile” and a natural set of teeth.
Reality can be hard. Our natural tooth colour, as well as habits such as smoking, coloured drinks (tea, coffee, red wine etc.), the passage of time, and various foods gradually deprive our teeth of their natural whiteness, or rather of their natural colour and shine. What can we do?
► Say “yes” to green vegetables and fruit: Spinach and other green vegetables apparently create an invisible protective film on our teeth, which turns away many stains. Also, certain crispy fruit and vegetables such as apples, celery and carrot can remove food stains from our teeth thanks to their abrasive effect. That makes our teeth appear whiter and shinier!
► A recipe for natural bleaching: Baking soda is not only a good way to remove stains, but also has powerful antibacterial properties which kill plaque-forming bacteria. Mr Dimitris Anagnostopoulos, pharmacist, cautions us to be careful when using baking soda: “Baking soda should not be used often and extensively because it contains sodium hydrogen carbonate which can harm the tooth enamel. It is preferable to use toothpastes that contain a clinically tested amount of this ingredient”.
► Rub your teeth with spearmint: It’s no accident that spearmint is a major ingredient in numerous commercial products for oral hygiene. As it turns out, the reason isn’t just its pleasant and fresh taste, but also its whitening effect. Get some spearmint leaves (not dried) and rub them on your teeth for a few seconds.
► Strawberry’s whitening power: Strawberries are considered a natural medicine for tooth bleaching. By rubbing our teeth with strawberries every day, we can greatly reduce their staining. For an easy and natural way to whiten your teeth, mash a ripe strawberry and mix well with half a tablespoonful of baking soda. Then use a soft toothbrush to apply the mixture on your teeth. Leave it on for five minutes, then brush your teeth and rinse thoroughly. Use this mixture once per week.
► Don’t forget water: Drink water after eating foods that cause tooth yellowing; this will wash off your teeth and prevent staining.
► Use less vinegar and lemon: Acidic foods (lemon, lime, berries) can widen the pores in tooth enamel and penetrate them, producing unsightly stains. Acids cause corrosion and thinning of tooth enamel, making them vulnerable.
► Don’t consume foods and drinks that are too hot or too cold: Changes in temperature (especially if they are rapid) can cause teeth to expand and contract, which makes staining easier.
► Prevention is the best cure
To avoid tooth yellowing, it is important that you:
- Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush and using the correct technique, every morning and evening.
- Rinse off your mouth after consuming drinks like coffee, tea, red wine and coloured carbonated drinks, or fruit with strong colours like berries and cherries.
- Don’t drink hot and cold drinks successively.
- Cut down or stop smoking. Of course, there are much more important reasons than tooth colour to do that, but nicotine will also affect your teeth, producing brown stains that only your dentist can remove.
- If you can’t brush your teeth right after a meal, chew some gum. Sugarless gum can remove morsels of food from your teeth, and can increase the production of saliva which will reduce staining and neutralise acids which cause caries.
- In any case, don’t neglect to visit your dentist regularly (every six months) for cleaning and examination.
► The power of aloe
Aloe has a history of thousands of years and is used extensively in beauty products and in health, personal and –lately– oral hygiene.
The secret is aloe gel, useful not only in burns and scratches but also as a unique ally for tooth and gum health, as American researchers recently discovered.
The effects of aloe on teeth are similar to its effects on skin: it cleans and soothes teeth and gums, while also fighting caries. “Aloe gel has similar antimicrobial activity with commercial toothpastes, and is equally or more effective against caries than common toothpastes”, says Mr Anagnostopoulos.
“Aloe contains natural anthraquinones, anti-inflammatory compounds that fight off oral pathogens and reduce pain. Also, aloe gel is less harsh on teeth because it doesn’t contain the abrasive ingredients we usually find in conventional toothpastes, so it is the best option for people with sensitive teeth or gums”, he explains.
who is who
Dimitrios Anagnostopoulos is a pharmacist. He was born in Piraeus in 1952 and studied pharmacy at the University of Athens, graduating in 1976.He has participated in many seminars on business administration, human resource management, homeopathy, alternative medicine, phytotherapy (Hellenic Management Association, Hellenic Productivity Centre, University of Athens).He served as the Commercial Manager of the Pharmacist's Supplying Cooperative of Attica and as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Active Health network of pharmacies, and has operated a pharmacy in Alimos since 1987.
He is a member of the Pharmacists’ Association of Attica, the Hellenic Society of Homeopathic Pharmacists, the Hellenic Society of Ethnopharmacology and others.
42, Thoukididou str., Alimos, Greece, tel. +302109813644, e-mail: email@example.com