One of the first things people notice is our smile. Clearly, everyone's teeth differ in colour, though almost everyone likes their smile to be at its best — white and clean. Here are some options to help you maintain tooth whiteness.

Whitening toothpaste

If you are concerned about tooth discolouration, you might like to try whitening toothpaste. This reduces or removes surface stains and improves the brightness of a smile, especially when part of a good, regular oral hygiene routine.  Unlike certain dental treatments, tooth-whitening pastes do not contain hydrogen peroxide. Instead, they contain gentle abrasives that polish the teeth, as well as tooth-friendly chemicals to dissolve stubborn stains, such as those from coffee or tobacco.

Some whitening toothpastes advertise anti-bacterial ingredients to prevent halitosis (bad breath), while also protecting against gum problems. It may be worth checking consumer reviews before buying; prices can vary considerably. In addition, a few brands attract occasional concerns about the erosion of tooth enamel while others appear to delight reviewers with their cleaning power.

However, whitening toothpaste cannot lighten stains that are deeper than the surface of the teeth, nor can it change the natural colour. It takes time to see changes and results vary from person to person. 

Natural foods

A number of foods can actually help to whiten the teeth. Modest consumption of dark chocolate may be beneficial due to a little-known ingredient: theobromine. This alkaloid hardens tooth enamel, making it thicker.  Consequently, the teeth appear whiter.

Strawberries contain malic acid, a natural astringent and enzyme that brightens tooth appearance.  Some strawberry lovers even mash this tasty fruit with sodium bicarbonate to produce a homemade tooth whitening paste.  Importantly, strawberries are the only berries which help to whiten teeth; in contrast, other berries can cause stains.

Cheese is rich in calcium and good for all our bones, including the teeth.  It also decreases acidity in the mouth, also preventing dental erosion and consequent tooth discolouring.

Professional dental whitening

Modern, professional dental techniques  for tooth whitening are highly effective, especially if the teeth do not have many fillings.  It is wise to check your dentist's advice to see which in-office cosmetic procedure or home-based kit is most appropriate and will give the best results.  In addition to safe, approved treatments, some cases may instead require restorative options including fillings, veneers and crowns.

Lastly, after any sort of tooth whitening treatment, repeat staining from red wine, coffee or heavy smoking is best avoided.