According to Jonathan Levine, DMD, the mouth (the teeth, in particular) is one of the areas where the effects of aging are most noticed. As people get older, there is a one- to two-shade change from white to yellow and gray. This discoloration is due to a combination of factors—from staining and thinning enamel to the shrinking of the pulp inside the tooth, which makes the teeth look darkened. While a professional whitening treatment is still the fastest way to reverse yellow or discolored teeth, there are a few things you can do at home to restore radiance to your smile. Here are some easy fixes you can do to get instant results.
1. First Things First: Floss and brush your teeth regularly.
A bright smile starts with a good oral routine. This seems like a no-brainer but there really is no shortcut to healthy teeth and gums. For best results, dentists recommend flossing and brushing your teeth with a gentle toothbrush and a whitening toothpaste at least twice a day. A whitening toothpaste, like Marvis Whitening Mint Toothpaste, isn’t enough to dramatically whiten discolored teeth on its own, but it’ll help scrub away new stains with a mild abrasive ingredient called silica.
2. Rinse after you eat.
If brushing your teeth after a meal isn’t possible, swish water in your mouth for 30 seconds to dislodge food particles and keep them from staining your teeth. Even better: Use a whitening rinse like PerioSciences AO Pro Rinse White Care, which features citrus extracts and micro-minerals to make your teeth more resistant to food acids.
3. Don’t forget your lips.
Your lips serve as the backdrop for your smile, so as you think of ways to whiten your teeth, don’t forget to take care of your lips as well. Dry, chapped lips not only look unsightly, they are also uncomfortable. To get smoother lips, start by sloughing off dead skin cells with a lip scrub, then repair and replenish moisture with a nourishing lip balm. Laura Geller New York Lip Strip is a good product for this because it does both functions at the same time.
4. Opt for a blue-toned lipstick.
For whiter teeth, steer clear of yellow-toned reds or pale pink shades, which tend to accentuate stains on the teeth. Instead, reach for a lipstick with a blue undertone like Lipstick Queen Hello Sailor Lipstick, which appears topaz blue in the tube but actually reveals a subtle, deep berry tint upon application. Aside from berry, lipstick with wine and cherry hues in it can make your teeth appear whiter than they really are.
5. Be mindful of what you eat and drink.
You know already that certain beverages like coffee, wine and soda can stain your teeth, but did you know that certain food can actually help protect your teeth from discoloration? Broccoli and kale, for example, contain minerals that help protect teeth against stains. Chomping hard, raw fruits and vegetables like apples and carrots stimulates saliva flow, which washes away food acids and bacteria. You can also try chewing a whitening gum like Supersmile Professional Whitening Gum, which, aside from ramping up saliva, also contains stain-fighting calprox.
6. Consider at-home teeth whiteners.
Even with the best oral care routine, it will be hard to reverse teeth discoloration without a professional dental procedure. But if you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars—or countless hours sitting in your dentist’s chair—on a professional treatment, there are teeth-whitening devices you can use at home that are not that expensive. GLO Science GLO Brilliant Personal Teeth Whitening Device, for one, is created by a dentist and is designed to make your teeth at least 5 shades whiter in just one week.
7. Stash a whitening pen in your purse.
For best results, complement your bright-smile routine with a teeth whitening pen. These bad boys are easy to apply and easy to stash in your purse, so you can use it wherever, whenever. Most pens contain hydrogen peroxide, a bleaching agent, but not everyone—especially those with sensitive gums—can tolerate it. If you’re one of those, opt for Dr. Brite Peroxide Free Teeth Whitening Pen, which brightens teeth just as effectively without any harsh ingredients.