Whether you’ve smoked for years or enjoyed the occasional cup of coffee in the morning, having to deal with yellow practically an eventuality. There are many causes of teeth staining, a lot of which we encounter daily. As a result, many people’s teeth yellow with age. If you fall into this camp, there are many ways you can whiten your teeth.

First, it’s important to understand why our teeth may not always stay pearly whites. What determines the color of our teeth is their enamel — their hard, outer surface — and the dentin underneath that layer. Light reflects off tooth enamel, helping teeth appear whiter. As we age, our enamel wears away, revealing dentin, which is darker. Hence, our teeth become less bright. Certain foods, drinks, and medications can also stain enamel. This is where the problem lies.

Reversing the ravages of time can be difficult, but you’re not in it alone. Let’s look at some of the ways you can get rid of yellow teeth.

Getting Your Teeth Professionally Cleaned and Whitened

The most effective methods of teeth whitening can be done by a dentist. There are two main types of whitening services, vital whitening and non-vital whitening. If your teeth have live nerves, you can get vital whitening. If a tooth has a dead nerve, like after a root canal, you can get non-vital whitening.

Non-vital whitening is different because the dentist whitens the tooth from the inside out. It’s also less common than vital whitening. Vital whitening uses a hydrogen peroxide gel that lightens and removes stains on the outside of the tooth. The dentist will apply the gel directly to the teeth while guarding the gums. They will then activate the gel with a laser or special light, which can help the gel work faster.

Vital whitening uses a hydrogen peroxide gel that lightens and removes stains on the outside of the tooth.

All said, a vital whitening office visit should take 30 to 90 minutes. Since the session is in-office, the gel the dentist uses may be stronger than an at-home option. However, to reach your desired whiteness, you may still need to attend several bleaching sessions.

The major downside of using professional teeth whitening services is the price. Since this is a purely cosmetic procedure, it’s very rarely covered by any form of insurance. This can lead you to foot the bill yourself. Depending on how many sessions you need, the service could cost you anywhere from $300 to $1,000. Many dentists offer whitening services, so it may be worth shopping around. Tooth bleaching can also leave your teeth sensitive for a little while as well.

At-Home Options

If you decide that an in-office method isn’t your cup of tea, an at-home remedy could work for you. Your dentist may be able to provide gel trays that are custom-fitted to your teeth. Much like the in-office option, this can be expensive, though not as expensive as going that route. You can also try an over-the-counter option.

For example, teeth whitening strips are available in most grocery stores or pharmacies. These work similarly to the bleaching process at a dentist’s office. Simply apply the strips after brushing your teeth and keep them on your teeth for a set amount of time before removing them. You can also buy whitening toothpaste in many stores or online. Unlike bleaching, whitening toothpaste essentially scrubs the teeth clean. To achieve this, it’s more abrasive than regular toothpaste.

Your at-home whitening options include strips and toothpaste. Both are available at most grocery stores.

The downside of whitening strips and toothpaste is that they take longer to produce results than in-office methods. Whitening strips can take days or weeks of continued use, and toothpaste can take longer, before you see significant improvement. Both can also cause teeth sensitivity.

Natural Options?

Some people choose to eschew chemical options and look for more natural solutions. The belief is that some natural substances either eliminate staining bacteria or brighten the enamel.

Coconut oil has an antibacterial effect, which studies show can reduce gingivitis and plaque.

One of the popular natural teeth whitening options is oil pulling. Coconut oil has an antibacterial effect, which studies show can reduce gingivitis and plaque. This can reduce staining, and some believe it whitens your smile. Other natural remedies include apple cider vinegar and activated charcoal. The effectiveness of these methods is disputed. They may not work for everyone, but they may be worth a try if the previous options don’t interest you.

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Ultimately, the best way to keep your smile pearly is to avoid foods and drinks that stain your teeth, quit smoking, and have good dental hygiene. Eventually, though, time can take its toll, and teeth will age. When this happens, if you’d like to keep your teeth shining bright, it helps to know your options. Luckily, there are plenty out there, and you should be able to find something that works best for you.