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If your teeth have stains that are getting in the way of a great smile, fight back. You’ve got lots of ways to brighten them up and keep the shine from going away.

Follow Up After You Chow Down

Things you eat or drink that can leave a mark on your hands or clothes can also stain your choppers. That’s why it’s a good idea to brush or rinse your mouth after you’ve enjoyed them.

Stain-makers to watch out for include:

  • Coffee or tea
  • Soda
  • Red and white wine
  • Grape or cranberry juice
  • Blueberries
  • Beets
  • Soy sauce
  • Tomato sauce

Ways to Keep Your Teeth Bright

Drink with a straw. This can help keep stains away when you drink soda, juice, or iced coffee or tea. The liquid won’t get near the visible front surfaces of your teeth.

Brush, floss, and rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash. All three can help you fight plaque, a white, hard material that forms on your teeth. It makes them sticky and gives stains something to hold on to.

Get your teeth professionally cleaned. Make an appointment at least twice a year with the dental hygienist at your dentist’s office. It will keep your mouth healthy and give you a brighter smile.

Don’t use tobacco. It stains your teeth whether you chew it or smoke it. And of course, the habit can lead to cancer. Ask your doctor for advice on how to quit.

Teeth-Whitening Methods

Still, seeing stains? There are other options. Bleaching can be a good way to brighten your smile.

Teeth-whitening works well if yours have started to turn yellow. If they’re brown it may take longer. Or if they’re grey you may not be able to fix it with bleach.

You can re-whiten if stains return, but overdoing it can cause sensitivity and pain. Read the label and use the products correctly.

Talk with your dentist to find out if teeth whitening is a good idea for you. If so, you can consider one of these options:

At-Home Whitening Kits: You can buy them at your local drugstore. They might make your teeth become sensitive, but this side effect usually goes away after the bleaching period is over. If your gums get irritated, talk to your dentist.

Whitening Toothpaste or Mouth Rinse: They can help keep your teeth white and prevent new stains. Follow the instructions on the label. Some people get sensitive teeth if they use whitening toothpaste.Professional Tooth Whitening: If you get your teeth bleached at your dentist’s office, it may take one or more visits. He will put a protective gel or rubber shield on your gums and then apply a bleaching agent to your teeth. He can also make a custom-fitted tray that you can use at home with whitening gel.

Remember, taking care of your mouth keeps your smile bright. So eat, drink, be merry — and brush and floss your teeth regularly.