Teeth undergo natural changes in colour and your smile doesn't have to be bright white to be healthy. Certain foods and beverages may stain your teeth; smoking, some medications and trauma to the teeth can also cause discolouration.

Types of whitening

There are a variety of methods and products available to whiten your teeth either at home or at your dentist's office. Whitening mouthwash, toothpaste and floss as well as whitening strips, are among the products are available from your drugstore. Your dentist can also provide in-office treatments or make you customized take-home trays. Different methods have varying costs, time-commitments and potential side-effects and not all options are for everyone.

Talk to your dentist about your expectations as well as the pros and cons of tooth whitening options to determine what's right for your teeth.

Treatment considerations

  • Most whitening products use some form of peroxide that can cause increased tooth sensitivity (especially in younger patients). If you have any oral infections or gum disease you should talk to your dentist before using a tooth whitener.
  • Bleaching will only whiten natural tooth enamel, not crowns, veneers, fillings or dentures.

Prevention - what you can do

To keep your teeth looking as white as possible try the following:

  • Brush soon after consuming stain-causing foods such as coffee, tea, red wine and blueberries.
  • Add dairy or soy milk to your tea or coffee rather than taking it black.
  • Quit smoking and chewing tobacco: stains from tobacco are almost impossible to remove.
  • Brush, floss and have regular dental cleanings to remove plaque.

Learn more about tooth whitening