Your Best Accessory is Your Smile

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Are you sporting a sparkling smile? Don't give up your daily dose of coffee (or red wine). Get a perfect grin with these teeth-whitening tips from dentist Dr. Jeff Helmus.

Dr. Helmus says most people come to his office for teeth whitening because they want to look younger. He recommends a couple different clinical-strength ways to brighten up teeth that can be done at home or in the dentist chair. Whitening gel, made up of carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide, is squeezed into trays that women wear over teeth for a half hour.

"When you put it on your teeth, it draws out the water and with it, the stains," Dr. Helmus says.

Laser treatment is an in-office procedure that also removes stains, but Dr. Helmus says it can make the teeth more sensitive, and he first recommends the gel method. Laser treatments remove the water and stains but nothing replaces what was in their place. Gel trays take out the stains and replace them with phosphorus and calcium, strengthening the teeth and lessening the occurrence of sensitive reactions.

Dr. Helmus does not recommend at-home remedies like brushing teeth with baking soda or using whitening tooth pastes. These methods can be abrasive and only remove surface stains.

"It's kind of like brushing your teeth with sandpaper," he says.

Lighter drinks, like green tea, will not cause staining like their darker counterparts–pop, red wine, and coffee. Avoid stains in the first place by swishing with water after drinking dark liquids, but try not to brush right after beverages are consumed, but rinsing teeth with water, you can lessen the staining.

Written by: Erika Fifelski is the West Michigan Woman magazine editorial coordinator. She was born and raised in West Michigan, and after a brief stint on the sunrise side, she's home and loving it. Erika enjoys gardening, vacuuming, and discovering new ways to live sustainably and support local businesses. Photo: Javiera de Aguirre

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