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Managing tea/cigarrette staining on teeth

Posted last April 10, 2012, 2:57 am in Health report article

We all start out with clean teeth but the ravages of time and diet quickly catch up with us. In addition to the traditional causes of tooth surface staining; tea, coffee, red wine and tobaccco smoke we have added food colour in the spices we use and coloured juice drinks as a new category .

The management involves removing existing stains by scaling and polishing by a qualified dentist/hygienist. Scaling of teeth removes tartar around the gumline in order to treat or prevent inflammation of the gums. Polishing removes surface stains all over the tooth surface and leaves you with a smooth surface that you are able to keep clean.

The maintenance part involves toothbrushing twice a day to prevent plaque from attaching to the tooth surface thereby becoming new tartar. Flossing is used once a day to remove plaque from in-between the teeth where your toothbrush will not reach. For larger tooth spaces, an interspace brush can be used which is like a miniature bottle brush.

A good brush has a lot of bristles concentrated on its head and is only effective before the bristles bend over. Avoid mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine unless prescribed by your dentist/hygienist. These have been known to cause staining. Chlorhexidine is the same chemical found in dettol! An abrasive toothpaste containing ground silica or other materials should be used twice a week to act as a polisher in between your yearly or half yearly visit to your dentist/hygienist. Daily use of such a toothpaste should be avoided because they may cause enamel wear on the tooth surface. For those teeth where the teeth have discoloured over time, a whitening toothpaste should be used once a day for one month. Such a toothpaste will contain a peroxide listed as one of the ingredients. This should be used once a day at night without rinsing for maximum effect, since salivary flow is much reduced while we sleep.