Whiter, Brighter Teeth – It’s Easy to Whiten
You may look in the mirror and wonder how, after brushing and flossing, your teeth are still stained and discolored. You may even flip through a magazine and found yourself longing for a model or movie star’s smile. Thankfully, you don’t have to live with discolored or dingy colored teeth. If you would like a whiter, brighter smile, talk to your dentist about teeth whitening.
Why Teeth Look Discolored
Your teeth may become discolored for a variety of reasons. Chemicals in tobacco, coffee, tea, and red wine can change the color of your teeth when you enjoy these products regularly. Certain medications (such as tetracycline), excessive fluoride, and previous dental work may also cause unsightly stains on your tooth enamel. Even aging can make your teeth more discolored as you grow older. Genetics can also determine the color of your teeth. While we think of tooth enamel as white, the natural, unstained shade of your teeth can range from pearly white to bluish gray to pale yellow. Even if you brush and floss daily, you may have genetically inherited healthy teeth that do not naturally look white.
Of course, you don’t have to live with discolored teeth. When you explain your desire to have whiter teeth to your dentist, they will examine your mouth and recommend one of the following ways to whiten and brighten your teeth.
In Office Whitening
In office whitening is one of the safest and quickest ways to safely whiten your teeth. During this process, your dentist will place a protective rubber dam around your gums and apply a solution of 15 to 35 percent carbamide peroxide, a chemical found in most bleaching products, to your teeth. Depending on the whitening method, your dentist may also use a laser or special lamp to speed up the bleaching process. In office whitening can give you dazzlingly white teeth in under an hour
Home Use Whiteners
If you’d prefer not to wait in a dentist’s office, your dentist can create clear, customized bleaching trays for you and recommend a bleaching solution. You can pour this solution, which usually contains 10 percent carbamide peroxide, in the trays and wear them during the day or at night, at home or work, to whiten your teeth. Most dentists recommend that you use the trays for an hour a day over one to two weeks to achieve the best effects, but you will notice the brighter teeth from bleaching immediately. You can also purchase home use whiteners over the counter. While there are so many on the market, most of these products are not as effective as the bleaching methods available in the dentist’s office. Nonetheless, they can be a quick and easy way to whiten your smile. Since each one is different, you may want to ask your dentist to recommend a product. You should also follow the directions to use it and never use whiteners for more than the recommended time period.
If you’ve had dental work done in your mouth or bleaching and whitening can’t get your teeth as white as you’d like, you should talk to your dentist about whitening your teeth with one of their restorative services. Your dentist may recommend bonding, a procedure where a long-lasting, tooth-colored composite resin is placed on the surface of the tooth and shaped to mask imperfections, such as discoloration. Another alternative may be veneers, a service where a thin layer of porcelain, resin, or other material is applied to the tooth surface to change the color of your teeth. Or your dentist may recommend crowns, a tooth-shaped restoration that completely covers the natural tooth to just below the gum line. To find out which one is best for you, talk to your dentist.
Whitening Tooth Pastes
If your teeth are sensitive to bleaching, your dentists may recommend a dentifrice or whitening toothpaste. These contain chemical or polishing agents to remove stains gently from the surface of your teeth. While your teeth won’t be as white as if you used a bleaching system, whitening toothpaste is safe, easy to use, and can be purchased over the counter.
What To Expect
With all whitening systems, you are advised not to eat, drink, or enjoy things that can discolor your teeth since recently whitened teeth are more likely to absorb stains. If you can, try to abstain from products that stain indefinitely since this will keep your teeth whiter. You may want to hold off on the cup of hot coffee or glass of iced tea anyway since whitening systems can cause increased sensitivity in your teeth and gums. These side effects pass with time, but if they persist or other problems arise, you should contact your dentist immediately. Before you pursue any whitening system, talk to your dentist. Not all whitening systems are alike and some people, such as those with recessed gums or exposed root surfaces, should avoid certain bleaching products. Your dentists can also help you if you have difficulties removing dark stains. When you use a bleaching product, follow your dentist’s instructions or the directions on the package for use. Most home whitening systems should be used for only two to four weeks. If you want to maintain the color of your teeth, be sure to brush and floss daily and see your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings.