We often think of teeth as white, but the reality is that nobody has perfectly white teeth. Teeth naturally darken with age and are susceptible to staining, especially from tobacco, coffee, tea, and wine. Even some dental treatments such as fillings or root canals can affect the coloring of a tooth. Thus, many people find themselves looking in the mirror and finding their smile isn’t as bright as it used to be. But the good news is that there are ever increasing options to help achieve a whiter brighter smile. Not all treatments are equal, and not all treatments are right for every situation so it’s important to make an informed choice.
These products are found primarily in toothpaste and chewing gums. Widely available, they contain special abrasives that will help improve the product’s ability to remove stains. Typically the abrasives used are just a finer version of what you’d find in regular toothpaste. These products can be effective, but will only work for minor surface stains and cannot be a substitute for professional cleaning and treatments. A benefit is that they are very safe and unlikely to cause tooth wear, so they can be used without fear of damaging your enamel.
Whitening Strips have become a popular do-it-yourself treatment. Often favored because it is a less expensive and convenient option, these strips are available from your local pharmacy or convenience store without a prescription. They primarily use peroxide or bleach to lighten stains. Most of these strips are safe, but some contain ingredients that can be damaging to teeth because they will actually eat away the surface enamel of your teeth. This will cause a temporary whiter appearance, but in the long term increase the risk of tooth decay and sensitivity.
These strips have been shown to yield positive results, but their effect is limited. In addition, they use strong chemicals that can be dangerous if used incorrectly or abused. Whitening procedures performed by a dentist will ensure your safety and produce better longer-lasting results. If you choose to try over-the-counter whitening strips, talk to your dentist first. They will be able to advise you of any specific concerns for your teeth and advise you on the best product for your needs.
Most bleaches are peroxide-based and can effectively whiten your teeth. However, the type and cause of your discoloration will impact whether or not this treatment is right for you so it’s best to consult with your dentist before beginning treatment. Your dentist can also advise on the type of bleaching treatment that will be best for your needs. When performed by a professional, bleaching is completely safe and reliable.
There are two kinds of bleaching treatments. “Vital bleaching” is done on teeth that have become stained or darkened with age. “Non-vital bleaching” is performed on teeth that have changed color because of treatments such as a root canal. There are also different application techniques. It can be done for all teeth, or on specific teeth that are more discolored than others. Depending on several factors, your dentist will recommend one of three bleaching methods:
- Placing special bleach on the stained teeth and using heat and/or light.
- Wearing a custom-made mouthguard filled with a special bleach solution for a designated amount of time.
- Brushing with a special bleach enhanced toothpaste.
We all want a happy healthy smile. Please visit our office so that we can advise you on the various teeth whitening procedures and options available to ensure you get the desired result of a whiter brighter smile.