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04/10 Wednesday 10:19PM

toothy tips

text . Pauline Chan .

If you are lucky enough to have a nice set of white teeth neatly laid out like Lego bricks, then you can confidently grin and bare them.  But what salvation is there for those of us who sport beaver-like gnashers the shade of mushroom soup? Dare we hope for a dazzling future? Let's take some tips from dentists to the stars on Elle.

Humans have been whitening their teeth since the 1800's. People used to go to barbers who used metal files to file down the teeth and then used nitric acid to stain the teeth white.  While this method worked, it led to a destruction of the enamel and the eventual decaying of the teeth. Nowadays, teeth whitening is hardly this ruinous.

Oral care is vital.  You should never skip the simple steps to a brighter smile. Dentists recommend you get professional cleaning every six months and brush your teeth twice a day with a whitening toothpaste which is at least good for removing plaque and superficial stains.

Certain food and drinks can affect the condition of teeth. Lemons, limes and grapefruit are acidic and they should not be allowed to remain at length on your teeth as the enamel will erode away. Even coffee and tea are similarly damaging so it is recommended by dentists to rinse your mouth after taking such beverages.

Crunchy fruits and vegetables can naturally exfoliate teeth.  Strawberries top this class as they have malic acid which 'breaks down stains' and fibres good for 'scrubbing' teeth.  If you are a gum-chewer then you are in luck as chewing on sugar-free gum that contain xylitol promotes saliva production which can clean your teeth and break down food particles in your mouth.

Home-whitening kits are available from pharmacies with peroxide concentrations ranging from seven to nine per cent. These DIY kits can provide better whitening power than your average whitening toothpaste.  Peroxide is the main ingredient in any whitening agent.  When it come into contact with teeth, it breaks down into oxygen and water. The oxygen molecules open the pores of the teeth and go deep down to pull out the stains.

Some teeth are more 'stubborn' and need stronger treatment to whiten. A visit to the dentist's chair is required to do treatment with high doses of peroxide to get the job done. Again, how much white the treatment will bring depends on the porosity of your teeth.  Some people will see whiter results than others but generally, professional treatment can make your teeth eight to ten shades whiter.

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