To keep your teeth white, bright and healthy, follow these 7 tips from dental experts

Dental hygiene is important – and so is taking pride in your “pearlly whites.”

But keeping your teeth white can be a challenge, and there are many factors that can cause tooth discoloration.

Dr. Ronald Santana, director of science and development at Penn State Oral Biolife, points out that tooth discoloration refers to the “staining or darkening of teeth” due to internal or external factors.

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“Extrinsic discoloration is caused by changes in the color of tooth enamel caused by external factors such as smoking, food or beverages including coffee, tea and red wine,” he said in a statement to Fox News Digital.

“Intrinsic discoloration affects the dentin of teeth and is caused by certain medications taken in childhood (tetracyclines), trauma to the teeth, and certain diseases (liver disease).”

Man smiling and taking selfie

One dentist's rule is: “If it can stain a white T-shirt, it can stain your teeth.” (iStock)

Dr. Erin Fraundorf, owner of BOCA Straightening and Whitening Studio in Ladue, Missouri, agrees that there are many factors that contribute to tooth discoloration.

While “there's no way to know the cause without evaluation and diagnosis by a professional,” experts say discoloration can be caused by diet, smoking, medications, trauma, genetics, thin enamel, and tooth wear from grinding and chewing.

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“A good general rule of thumb is, if it can stain a white T-shirt, it can stain your teeth,” she told Fox News Digital.

Santana and Fraundorf offer seven tips on how to get whiter, brighter teeth.

1. Develop oral care habits

Fraundorf recommends brushing with an electric toothbrush at least twice a day and using a toothpaste containing fluoride or nanohydroxyapatite (nHA).

“Avoid using charcoal or other abrasive toothpastes as they can damage enamel and darken teeth over time,” she says.

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“Turn mundane oral care into a self-care ritual and make it an experience,” she adds.

While some people may be tempted to try at-home teeth whitening treatments, Santana stresses that “care should be taken to choose a safe and effective at-home teeth whitening method.”

Woman brushing teeth

Experts say it's best to avoid using charcoal or other “abrasive” toothpastes. (iStock)

“Avoid trying to treat it at home before seeing a dentist, as certain substances may damage the enamel,” he warns.

Santana said “adequate” brushing is an “effective” way to reduce tooth discoloration.

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“Brushing with proper brushing technique, using whitening toothpaste and using an electric toothbrush are effective ways to reduce tooth discoloration.”

Flossing with toothpaste, water flossing to remove plaque and using a tongue scraper daily to reduce bacteria can also contribute to teeth whitening, Fraundorf added.

2.Drink more water

Water is “the best drink for keeping your teeth healthy and white,” Fraundorf said.

“The next time you drink coffee or wine, take a swig of water between sips and rinse your mouth briefly,” she advises.

Woman reaches for the water glass next to the bed

One dentist advises that water is “the best drink to keep your teeth healthy and white.” (iStock)

“Not only does the water prevent staining particles from adhering to the teeth, it also helps neutralize the acidity of the drink.”

Fraundorfer also recommends choosing still water over sparkling water.

“Drink water regularly and rinse your mouth with it to neutralize the environment in your mouth and fight stains,” she advises.

3. Chew sugarless gum

Fraundorf noted that research shows that patients who chew sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals experience “significant reductions” in cavities.

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“Chewing sugarless gum increases saliva flow by stimulating mechanical and taste receptors in the mouth,” she told Fox News Digital.

“Saliva helps flush away food particles and dilutes and neutralizes the acids produced by plaque bacteria on your teeth, reducing cavities and stains.”

4. Drink water through a straw

Using a straw, especially when drinking dark, acidic or sugary drinks, can help reduce the contact of these substances with your teeth.

Woman drinking green juice for health and fitness

Experts suggest that drinking through a straw reduces the contact of the liquid with your teeth. (iStock)

“As an added bonus, try drinking your beverages more quickly to reduce the time the oral environment is exposed to lower pH, thereby reducing enamel damage,” says Fraundorf.

5. Fight stains with fruits and vegetables

Santana says certain foods and drinks, such as red wine, soda, soy sauce, curry, balsamic vinegar and coffee, can stain teeth and should be avoided.

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“In addition, although scientific evidence is limited, a balanced, healthy diet – including strawberries, grapes, apples, watermelon, papaya, pineapple, cheese, celery, carrots, broccoli and almonds – may limit tooth staining,” he said pointed out.

Fraundorfer agrees that “superfoods may be one of the best (and tastiest) ways to naturally whiten your teeth.”

Woman bit a strawberry

Superfoods like strawberries can help whiten teeth, experts say. (iStock)

“Strawberries, apples and watermelon all contain high amounts of malic acid, which can help whiten your smile by removing surface stains and increasing saliva,” she says.

Other superfoods that can help whiten teeth include celery and leafy green vegetables, because their “fiber texture acts like a natural toothbrush and removes plaque from your teeth,” adds Fraundorf.

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“Dark leafy greens also contain calcium, which counteracts the effects of acid, and are rich in folate, which is essential for the growth of gum tissue cells.”

6. Go to the dentist

“Maintaining good oral health is the most important thing you can do for a great smile,” Fraundorff told Fox News Digital.

“Set calendar reminders for regular checkups and cleanings with your general dentist.”

“Your dentist can prescribe safe and customized teeth whitening resources based on your specific needs,” adds Santana.

Woman goes to the dentist to check her teeth

Experts recommend that patients should visit their dentist every six months for a comprehensive check-up. (iStock)

7. Consider professional teeth whitening

While diligent oral care can help keep your teeth bright, Fraundorfer advises that professional teeth whitening may be necessary to “take your smile to the next level.”

“Maintaining good oral health is the most important thing you can do to achieve a great smile.”

“Whitening treatments are not one-size-fits-all, so it’s important to seek customized care,” she says.

“The ideal whitening regimen is a treatment that is specific to you, tailored to your unique smile goals, tooth composition, diet, sensitivity levels and lifestyle.”

“A proper diagnosis and customized teeth whitening treatment plan requires consideration of many factors to ensure the best, most comfortable, and most beautiful results,” she adds.

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Experts say artificial tooth structures such as crowns, veneers and composites do not whiten, meaning whitening these teeth requires additional restorative work.

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