For whiter teeth do i brush before or after tea?

I had teeth whitening done about a month ago and am hoping to maintain the results as long as possible. However, I’m getting conflicting information as to whether I should be brushing before or after my tea. One person said that if I brush before, I’m opening up pores on my teeth and they’ll pick up stains quicker. Another person said that if I brush after tea, which is what I’ve been doing to get the tea off my teeth quickly, I’ll damage my teeth because the tea is acidic. Which is correct?

Thank you,

Maya

Dear Maya,

womean covering her mouth with her hand
When your teeth are stained it can be embarrassing to smile.

You’re asking good questions. Your teeth whitening results will last longer if you’re mindful with your tea habits. Ideally, you’d give up tea, but since that’s probably not realistic, let’s focus on what you can do when you indulge anyway.

Drink in One Session and Don’t Sip for a Prolonged Period of Time

It sounds like you’ve got this one nailed, but it’s worth mentioning. People who sip on tea and coffee all morning or all day pick up stains faster than those who finish their drinks in one go.

It’s Ok to Brush Before Tea

The concept of “pores” opening when you brush is an urban legend. While you do have tubules in your teeth, they have plugs in them. Very few things disrupt those plugs, but it’s generally restricted to things that happen in the dental chair, such as restorative work and professional teeth whitening.

The tubules develop new plugs within a day or two, so you’d want to avoid tea during that span so you don’t sabotage your efforts but otherwise, you’re good to go in that department.

Be Wary of Brushing After Tea

The problem with acidic foods and beverages is that they lower the pH of your mouth. Ideally, it should be closer to a 7.0, but a little variation in either direction isn’t too much cause for concern. When your mouth is more on the acidic side (anything below 7.0), your teeth demineralize. That means they lose calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals that make them strong and block decay. Your enamel and dentin will also soften for a period of time after consuming an acidic beverage.

However, as your pH returns to normal, they’ll pick up the minerals in your saliva (remineralize) and will harden again. Problems set in when you either don’t provide your teeth with an environment to remineralize or you brush while the enamel is still “soft.” In doing so, you can actually remove the softened layer and it doesn’t grow back. That’s referred to as acid erosion, though there are several alternate causes of it.

For the record, black tea is usually a 4.9-5.5 pH, making it one of the more acidic things you can introduce into your mouth, though it will vary depending on how you brew it and other factors. Coffee is usually around a 4.5- 6.0 pH, for comparison. Sodas and juices—especially citrus juice—can go as low as 2.0. Battery acid is a 0.0.

Rinse or Rebalance After Tea Instead of Brushing

One of the easiest ways to remove any residual tea is to give your mouth a quick rinse with water after you finish. If you have concerns about acid erosion or demineralization, you can also restore balance by using a pH neutral mouthwash after or by mixing one part baking soda to eight parts water and rinsing with that.

Fluoride may be an alternative to help create stronger teeth as well, though it obviously does nothing for staining. It doesn’t work in exactly the same way minerals will, but it also isn’t quite as sensitive to environmental factors, which is why it’s been trusted as a cavity-fighting tool for generations.

This blog is sponsored by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.

chronic migraines

I have chronic migraines. My doctor just puts me on a daily medicine, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. My sister-in-law said her dentist cured her migraines. What dental treatments are available for that.?

Cassie

a woman holder her jaw from TMJ pain
TMJ Can Cause Migraines

Dear Cassie,

There are two things that come to mind when you speak of a dentist helping you with chronic migraines. The first is the possibility of you having TMJ disorder.

Chronic migraines are just one symptom of TMJ. You’ll notice them especially in the mornings. There are other symptoms as well:

  • pops or clicking in the jaw
  • chronic headaches
  • pain in your jaw muscles
  • neck or shoulder pain
  • worn or chipped teeth

If you suffer from these, it will benefit you to see a dentist who has training in treating in TMJ Disorder. Sometimes a simple treatment can solve the whole problem.

There is another treatment certain dentists can provide while you get to the root causes of your migraines.

Botox for Chronic Migraines

Botox can relieve migraine pain

Some dentists and doctors can provide relief by giving you Botox injections. When we think of Botox, we often think of women who’ve had so many anti-wrinkle treatments that haven’t been able to crack a smile in years.

These are tiny injections that are placed by your pain receptors. This enables it to block the release of chemicals responsible for the transmission of pain, giving you relief.

It will not interfere with any of the medication you are currently on for your migraines so you don’t have to worry about contraindications.

This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.

when porcelain veneers are an overtreatment

I talked to my dentist about getting my teeth whiter. I was thinking of teeth whitening, but he suggested I get porcelain veneers. He said then he could whiten my teeth and close a small gap I have at the same time. While I like the idea of not having my tooth gap any longer, the price he quoted me is pretty high. Could I whiten my teeth and then get the porcelain veneers later when I have the money?

Macey

Dear Macey,

custom-fitted teeth whitening trays

I am not comfortable with your dentist’s recommendation. To me, if you just want your teeth whitened, porcelain veneers are a massive (and expensive) overtreatment.

Porcelain veneers are a procedure for patients looking for a total smile makeover. It is the go-to procedures for celebrities looking for that perfect smile. They can simultaneously change the shape, size, and color of your teeth.

Yes, they can close your tooth gap, and you could get your teeth whitening done and then later get porcelain veneers, but you could close your tooth gap at a much lower cost with dental bonding. In fact, that’s what I’m going to suggest you do.

I want you to get your teeth whitened. Then, after a couple of weeks when the color has had time to settle, see a cosmetic dentist to close the gap in your front teeth.

Because this procedure is done free-hand, it really needs to be done by a skilled cosmetic dentist.

I’m going to suggest you look on mynewsmile.com to see their list of recommended cosmetic dentists in your area. They prescreen each dentist who wishes to be listed for both technical skill as well as artistry. Any one of their listed dentists will provide you will stunning results.

This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.

dental bonding disaster

I have two front teeth that overlap one another and the adjacent teeth are set further back than they should be. My dentist suggested dental bonding, which he said he’s done to close gapped teeth. He ground down the overlapping teeth and filled in the teeth which were set back. He made them yellow to match my other teeth but I was hoping to get them a little whiter as I planned to whiten my other teeth. The teeth he ground down feel sharp and uncomfortable and I’m just not happy with these results. What do you recommend?

Laurie

Dear Laurie,

a dental bonding case done by Dr. Delaune with before and after pictures

The above picture is a dental bonding case done by Dr. Delaune, you can see more cases on his smile gallery. This is to show you that dental bonding can create beautiful results.

What it boils down to is your dentist was in over his head. While he may have closed a few gaps, the type of dental bonding your case required was much more advanced. My guess is only about 2% of cosmetic dentists can do it correctly.

I don’t know if your dentist will be willing to give you a refund so you can get this done correctly elsewhere, but you can ask.

Regarding the color of your teeth. Your dentist should have warned you if you were going to whiten them, you’d need to do it before having the bonding done. Teeth whitening only works on natural tooth structure.

Once your teeth are whitened, then a skilled cosmetic dentist will match the bonding to your new color.

Finding a Skilled Cosmetic Dentist

Smile makeovers and advanced dental bonding cases, such as yours, aren’t taught in dental school. Because of that, you want a dentist who has invested in post-doctoral training in cosmetic dental work.

In addition to technical knowledge, you want a dentist who has an artistic eye. This is especially true with dental bonding because it has to be done free-hand.

One useful resource is the mynewsmile.com website. They have a search link for patients looking for advanced cosmetic dentists. No one can just pay to be listed. Each dentist is screened for both technical training and artistry, Any dentist they list will do a beautiful job for you.

This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.