It's a short reach to the whitening products when you want a nicer smile, but they're not the only option for whiter teeth. In fact, certain foods can help the whitening process as well. Numerous minerals and compounds in some of your favorite dishes could be the secret ingredient to a brighter mouth.
But not all foods are created equally. If you're wondering how to get whiter teeth, whether or not you also use a whitening product, knowing which foods do the trick can accelerate your pursuit of whiter, brighter teeth in an especially delicious way.
1. Tart Foods
When food makes your mouth pucker, there's a good chance it also has a cosmetic benefit. Saliva is extremely helpful to washing away stain-causing food particles left behind by rich food and drink. Tart foods – grapefruits or sour apples, for instance – can help increase this saliva production, making them a good post-meal snack for cleaner and ultimately whiter teeth.
2. Dairy Products
The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) recommends stocking up on dairy products like yogurt and cheese for a healthier smile. Dairy products are high in lactic acid, which protect teeth against the decay that contributes to stains and yellowing due to exposure of the underlying dentin. Hard cheeses can also aid in the teeth's gentle exfoliation to help get rid of stains for a whiter appearance.
3. Crunchy Foods
Apples and celery, anyone? Crunchy foods work well for teeth-whitening because they're typically high in malic acid, which a 2013 study by the University of Grenada in Spain found to be instrumental to patients' saliva production. Saliva washes away leftover food particles on a constant basis, which helps protect against the tooth decay that weakens enamel and reveals the dentin beneath it. Crunchy foods are also mildly abrasive, allowing them to diminish surface stains that prevent otherwise healthy teeth from remaining white.
Pineapple contains an ingredient found in many whitening toothpastes: bromelain. This protein is often used in natural toothpastes as a way to remove surface stains and aid in the removal of plaque. Even one piece of pineapple after a meal can help deliver the same ingredient straight to the source. As Eating Well reports, it may also reduce inflammation, which is great if you suffer from sore gums or gingivitis as a result of a bacterial buildup.
5. Avoiding Certain Foods
Stain-fighting and saliva-producing foods can definitely help you get a whiter smile, but as in most cases of dental hygiene, prevention is still your best approach. If you're wondering how to get whiter teeth, consider dietary habits that could be causing your teeth to discolor over time before adding in new items. Smoking, your daily cup of coffee and even highly pigmented beverages (like red wine) can contribute to a dull, stained smile. Skip foods that will stain teeth in this way, and if you must indulge, keep sugar-free gum, Colgate Total® Advanced Whitening Toothpaste or one of the above whitening foods on hand. Focusing on stain-prevention can help keep your smile bright enough that you won't need to troubleshoot later.
Whether or not you decide to use whitening products in addition to the foods that do the work, it is possible to create a whiter smile by focusing on your diet. After all, if you are what you eat, it's best to consume the things that make you healthy.