How to Get Whiter Teeth
We’ve all witnessed that wide-smiling cartoon character with over-sized pearly whites and a sparkling star resonating from its eye tooth. Television commercials are always showing people with whiter teeth getting kissed more often, looking younger, and having much more energy. As silly as those Cheshire smiles can be, and as obviously exaggerated as teeth whitening commercials are, most of us find that a brighter than white smile does make us feel and look healthier, younger, and much more lively. So, if your tooth color is somewhat less than desirable, how do you get them whiter?
First of all, knowing what may be causing the discoloration is key to minimizing the problem. If you consume a fair amount of soda, coffee, or other dark colored liquids, if you are a heavy smoker, or if you consume a good deal of acidic foods, you are contributing to the problem. If you are taking certain drugs, especially tetracycline, or are simply a few years over prime, yellow or brownish stains may be the results. Minimizing your consumption of certain foods or beverages will help, but unless you have discovered the fountain of youth you obviously cannot turn back the clock. The best thing to do is to use cosmetic whitening agents-either at home or at your dentist’s office.
The least invasive, most convenient, and least costly way to whiten your teeth is by using whitening toothpastes. These types of toothpastes contain mild abrasives that can be successful in removing some of the surface stains and lighten your teeth color about one shade. If this doesn’t satisfy you, you will want to try some over-the-counter whitening rinses, strips, gels, or tray-based kits that contain varying percentages of carbamide peroxide. Usually, with twice a day applications for 14 days at a time, you will experience much better results lasting an average of three to four months.
If your discoloration proves resistant to do-it-yourself commercial products, don’t start searching for a full set of dentures just yet. It’s time to gather the big guns-dentists! In-office bleaching is the quickest way to whiten teeth, lifting color from 7 to 9 levels with results usually lasting a year or longer. While it seems like the way to go, whitening your teeth in this manner comes with a higher price tag and usually a greater chance of temporary teeth and gum sensitivity due to the stronger bleaching agents.
As a general rule of thumb, you don’t want to use whitening agents on your teeth during pregnancy or if you are a nursing mom. Those under the age of 16 should also avoid teeth whitening agents because it could irritate the pulp or cause it to become sensitive. If you have a mouth full of dental restorations, you have a whole new set of issues. Crowns and fillings cannot be lightened, and who wants to end up with a piano keyboard smile of some whitened teeth and other restorations previously matched to a somewhat darker color?
Getting whiter teeth doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist endeavor. If you set realistic expectations, be patient and persistent in the process you choose, and perhaps change your consumption of specific foods and beverages that have contributed to the discoloration, you’ll be well on your way to maintaining that model-white smile.