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Of course, there are the usual whitening methods: toothpaste, mouthwash, gums, and expensive professional treatments. There are also easy, everyday habits that can help brighten your smile. Here are 9 simple ways to make your teeth their whitest—and the habits you should break, too.
Use baking soda
Baking soda may be a multi-talented cleaner for your home, but not for teeth. This chemical compound is an abrasive, meaning that it will help remove stains, but it can also be harmful. After continued use, it can begin to wear away enamel, which will cause your teeth to darken.
Eat dark foods
There are some surprising foods and condiments that Manhattan-based dentist Dr. Debra Glassman puts on her “Do Not Eat” list. Avoid marinara sauce, blueberries, and soy sauce, she says, because foods with very dark pigmentation can cause staining. (Of course, there are plenty of good reasons to keep blueberries in your diet.)
Guzzle energy drinks
In addition to the usual staining suspects (coffee, tea, and red wine), stay away from energy drinks. The acid they contain can have the same eroding effects as eating citrus fruits, only your your teeth are bathing in it. Still want your pick-me-up? Drinking beverages through a straw can protect your teeth, Dr. Glassman suggests.
Swap out your toothbrush
A whiter smile could be as easy as throwing out your old toothbrush. According Dr. Glosman, “Replace a toothbrush every three months, or as soon as you see the majority of the bristles begin to bend and look worn down.” After the bristles are worn down, your toothbrush isn’t cleaning your teeth properly.