5 Top Tips for a Whiter Smile in the New Year

Daniela Gurpegui Abud, D.D.S., Assistant Clinical Practice Leader and Associate Professor of Dental Medicine

January 22, 2021
Dr. Abud Gurpegui headshot

With the start of a new year comes the time-honored tradition of setting resolutions. Perhaps you want to hit the gym or even become more organized, but there’s no time better than the present to boost your confidence and improve your oral and overall health by looking to obtain a brighter smile.

If you’re looking to leave your dull grin behind in 2020 and ready to greet 2021 with a radiant set of pearly whites, check out these five safe and helpful whitening tips from Associate Professor of Dental Medicine and Assistant Clinical Practice Leader at Touro Dental Health Dr. Daniela Gurpegui Abud.   

1. Cut Back on Sweets, Reach for Healthy Alternatives

Looking to maintain a healthier diet may already be on your list of 2021 to-dos and will certainly aid in helping to achieve a sparkling smile. Overconsumption of sugar is a common culprit of tooth decay and can lead to a duller smile. If you get the craving for something sweet, try to swap out your unhealthy go-to’s with nutritious alternatives like apples, oranges or pineapples. These are just some of the tasty fruits known to increase saliva production in your mouth which, in turn, naturally cleans your teeth. Gurpegui also suggests avoiding sticky foods, “A banana or a piece of soft bread are both snack options that, due to their chewy consistencies, make us more prone to caries. Whenever we eat these types of foods, the best option would be to brush your teeth immediately after, so be mindful of your snack choices.”

2. Say “No” to Dark and Dyed Drinks and Treats 

If you’re serious about achieving a whiter smile, you may have to say “no” to that morning cup of joe. Over consuming dark and acidic beverages such as coffee, black tea, colas and red wine can also lead to tooth decay. Gurpegui shares that if you can’t give up the habit, try reducing the amount of time it takes you to drink your favorite dark beverages, and ideally brush your teeth afterward. “If you are used to sipping a large latte during your morning shift, try switching to a smaller cup that will take you less time to finish,” says Dr. Gurpegui. “As an alternative to brushing afterward, rinse your mouth with water or chew a sugarless gum, only for a couple of minutes.”

Also, be try to cognizant of foods, both naturally and unnaturally pigmented, that can affect the appearance of your teeth. For instance, it may be common sense that processed, brightly colored foods like popsicles can lead to discoloration, but you may rarely think about tomato sauce as being a culprit contributing to the yellowing of your teeth.

3. Keep Up Your Dental Hygiene at Home

It goes without saying that keeping up a consistent oral hygiene routine at home is one of the most importing aspects of keeping your teeth healthy and bright. “Make sure as part of your morning and nighttime ritual that you are not just gently and thoroughly brushing but flossing as well; flossing works to aid in plaque removal, which helps to improve the appearance of your teeth overall,” says Dr. Gurpegui. Keeping up your oral health should also include ensuring that you are routinely visiting your dentist for cleanings, so be sure you have your 2021 bookings in order!

4. Over the Counter Whitening Products Can Be Helpful, But Be Wary

A stroll through your local pharmacy or quick internet search will present you with an abundance of products and DIY solutions for whitening your teeth, but be wary. For example, charcoal whitening treatments, while trendy and even effective in the short term, have shown to be abrasive and can wear down the enamel on your teeth...the very surface that makes your teeth appear white!

“Brushing with a whitening toothpaste can help remove some superficial stains, but using it consistently can sometimes result in sensitivity,” shares Dr. Gurpegui. “If that’s your case, try alternating by brushing with a non-whitening toothpaste in the morning or at night.” Before trying something new, it’s definitely a good idea to get your dentist’s opinion first.

5. For Stubborn Stains, Professional Whitening May Be for You

Professional whitening treatments are a great option for those who may have very stubborn stains built up over the course of several years, or even those who just want an extra boost to ensure your smile looks its best. At Touro Dental Health, a 1-hour chairside ZOOM!®whitening treatment is available to patients, which has the potential to whiten your smile anywhere from 6 to 8 shades! Gurpegui comments that while professional whitening has the potential to trigger sensitivity and is not for everyone, your dentist will be able to determine if you are a candidate for treatment. “Good hygiene and a whitening toothpaste or an over-the-counter whitening solution only works on teeth that have very mild and superficial staining,” says Dr. Gurpegui. “If you want to see shockingly different results, consulting with your dentist is the best option.”