A professional whitening treatment can leave your smile looking whiter than ever. However, if you're not careful, bad habits can cause your teeth to fade back to their yellowed color within a few short months. Whitening treatments are not cheap, so you don't want to have to return to the dentist for another one more often than necessary. Follow these four tips for keeping your teeth whiter between whitening treatments, and your pearly whites will stay flashy much longer.

Drink through a straw.

When you drink through a straw, the liquid is deposited on your tongue, rather than first flowing past your front teeth. It's especially important to drink dark liquids -- like coffee and cola -- through a straw. However, you should drink any other liquids that contain sugar through a straw, too. Whenever you let that sugar come into contact with your teeth, you're accelerating the plaque formation process, and plaque is yellowish in color. The only liquid you should be drinking sans straw is water.

Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables last.

If you're like most people, you don't brush immediately after every meal. Thus, the sugars from that meal sit on your teeth for a few hours, accelerating plaque formation. What you can do to help combat this, at least somewhat, it make a habit of eating a crunchy fruit or vegetable at the end of each meal. Apples, celery, and carrots are all good choices. The rougher texture of these foods helps scrub some of the residue off of your teeth after the meal.

Brush with baking soda sometimes.

Baking soda certainly does not taste good. However, its gritty texture can help scrub away stains and plaque that do not come away so easily with normal toothpaste. Dip your moistened toothbrush into some baking soda, and then brush like usual. Don't do this every time you brush, as the grittiness may lead to weakened enamel if you use it too often. Once or twice per week is ideal. 

Use a whitening toothpaste.

Just because you had a whitening treatment does not mean you can't keep using a whitening toothpaste! Not all whitening toothpastes are created equal, so talk to a local dentist (such as one from Carolina Forest Family Dentistry) to find one that's best for you. Some are supposed to be used every time you brush while others are meant to be used once per week in place of your regular toothpaste. Make sure you read the label on the one you choose carefully, and follow the instructions for best results.