Teeth whitening has become all the rage in cosmetic dentistry. A pearly-white smile embodies a healthy, youthful and attractive radiance that is vastly appealing in our society. If your smile is lacking a little sparkle, become familiar with these products and procedures and steer clear of some teeth-whitening myths to achieve your picture-perfect results.
Before we discuss bleaching, let’s briefly talk about teeth stains. There are two types of discolorations that teeth can acquire: extrinsic and intrinsic stains. Extrinsic are surface stains that result from food, smoking, wine, soda, coffee, tea, etc. Basically, if it could stain your white t-shirt, it can potentially stain your teeth to a yellow or brownish hue. Nevertheless, extrinsic teeth stains can successfully be whitened. On the other hand, intrinsic stains are discolorations from within the tooth. These types of stains are from a systemic approach such as tetracycline antibiotics or fluorosis. These bluish gray or white-spotted stains cannot be bleached. Porcelain veneers or dental bonding are a better option to improve intrinsic staining.
There are 3 types of treatment options to remove unsightly surface stains from teeth so you can obtain a glistening white smile.
Professionally applied teeth whitening can be achieved by your dentist in as little as one hour. The dentist will apply a bleaching agent to your teeth and a special light or laser is used to enhance the action of the whitening agent. Results are immediate and your teeth may become up to five shades lighter.
At-home whitening treatments are dispensed by your dentist. A customized mouth tray is designed to hold the peroxide-based gel. Your dentist will give you a specific concentration of carbamide peroxide based on your needs in a 10%, 16%, or 22% strength. The usage of at-home treatments can be prescribed twice a day or overnight for a few weeks. Your teeth may become up to 6 shades lighter after several weeks with this treatment.
Countless over-the-counter teeth whitening products are available at your local drugstore or supermarket. These products are safe and effective; however, they will not give you the dramatic whiteness and instant gratification that can only be achieved with dental supervised treatments. There are an array of products to try, including strips, brush-on whitening, whitening toothpastes and mouth rinses. If you stick with a product and use it according to its specific instructions in addition to maintaining your oral hygiene, you may see slight results of 1-2 shades lighter in several weeks.
What you should avoid!
There are several teeth whitening myths that should be avoided at all costs! One of which is brushing with lemon juice or strawberries. Don’t do it, even if your grandma said so! These fruits are very acidic and will dangerously strip the enamel from your teeth, thus giving you temporarily whiter teeth and loss of tooth calcium. You may end up with an abundance of cavities and irreversible damage. Other home dental remedies that you should refrain from are brushing with hard wood ash (it contains potassium hydroxide but is too abrasive on teeth) and rubbing mustard oil on teeth (causes gums to sting). On the other hand, brushing with baking soda or hydrogen peroxide is safe to use occasionally, however, these products can be abrasive to enamel or irritate your gums if abused. Your best bet is to use an ADA Seal of Acceptance whitening toothpaste instead of these home remedies as they contain the correct ratio of whitening agents as well as fluoride for protection and prevention.
Overall, no bleaching method can permanently whiten teeth and may require repeated treatments. Many bleaching mechanisms, whether in-office, at-home or over-the-counter, can cause tooth sensitivity, which is usually temporary. It is also important to bear in mind that tooth colored dental fillings and crowns, especially those on your front teeth will never whiten with bleach. Visit your dentist or dental hygienist at least twice a year for your cleaning and exam and they can answer any questions or address any of your specific concerns regarding tooth whitening.
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