Dr. Haight’s Helpful Hints
How Do I Get Whiter Teeth??
It’s the age old question. How do I get that big beautiful white smile? And fast. People have sought after a whiter smile for ages…as in back to ancient Egyptians who used a combination of vinegar and pumice to do the job. But it gets better. The Romans used urine! Thankfully we have discontinued that practice and learned a thing or two along the way about how to establish whiter teeth without going to major extremes. So let’s dive in and look at all the different ways you can do so too.
First things first, why do I have stain in the first place? We can’t really fix a problem until we address the cause right? There are a number of circumstances that can lead to discoloration of teeth. One of the biggest indicators is simply what you are eating or drinking. Some of the larger culprits include coffee, tea, soda and red wine. Anything with these darker colored pigments, called chromogens, can attach to the enamel and cause the change in color. Speaking of dark colored substances, tobacco can also implement some hefty stains. In addition, age, dental trauma and certain medications may induce some changes. Any or all of these can play a role in the color of our teeth, but it’s important to talk to your dentist about your specific situation so that you can discern exactly why your teeth may not be as white as you like.
Now that we’ve covered the why, we can move on to the how. The most obvious way to whiten is using those crest white strips on the commercials right? Or maybe that 3D whitening toothpaste? But my dentist said he/she can do it too. So which is better and what’s the difference? Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up.
Toothpastes. Many of the toothpastes sold offer some sort of whitening effect, or at least advertise that they do. But let’s be clear as to what this really means. Toothpastes that advertise with an ADA seal for whitening have special properties that aid in polishing and removing surface level stains. They DO NOT change the color of the teeth. This being said, if you have mild staining, this may be a plausible option to begin with, however, do not expect dramatic results.
Over-The-Counter Bleaching. Notice bleaching here is a different term. Bleaching is used when a product is claiming to be able to change the actual color of the tooth rather than just removing surface level stain. Over the counter products such as Crest white strips or Aquafresh white trays are certainly the most financially feasible option, however, there are some catches. The store bought whitening kits use a one-size –fits-all tray or strips in order to deliver the product. While this may not be a deal breaker, it is also important to note that the bleaching product is often a very low concentration and thus not only takes a longer time in order to have a similar effect, it may not be as effective as other higher concentration products.
In-Office-Bleaching. While the cost of professional bleaching may initially deter you, it is important to weigh the pros and cons. Rather than a one-size-fits-all tray, professionally dispensed bleaching offers a custom tray that not only fits your mouth, but can be re-used again and again. Your dentist can also offer you a much higher concentration bleaching product to use at home. That being said, even with the higher percentage of bleach product that dentists can offer, the custom trays have been shown to have far less sensitivity afterwards than other options. Sensitivity is a very normal response to bleaching, however, this option has seen better results regarding such outcomes.
Now that we have the basics covered, it’s important to make an educated decision with your own dentist. Bleaching or whitening will depend on your specific needs and expectations and should be discussed in conjunction with your dentist. There are a variety of options for every situation, so don’t hesitate to make an appointment to discuss how to get the healthiest, brightest, whitest smile for you!