There are many benefits of having white teeth, both socially and in regards to your own health. As such, it can be seen as a logical step that Americans now spend over $1.4 billion dollars a year on their oral hygiene, of which a significant percentage goes towards the whitening of teeth. This is part of the general culture in the United States – we see white teeth as healthy, which they are, and we assume them to be indicative of a healthy person.
As such, we ourselves tend to strive towards having bright, white, healthy teeth. Teeth whitening methods are quite varied, which thankfully offers us plenty of choice. As with all things, education is key, and as such we have put together a quick guide that will give you the basics in the best methods for whitening your own teeth.
Good Dental Hygiene
Developing and maintaining impeccable dental hygiene is a vital factor in developing a dazzlingly bright, white smile. This can be done in a variety of ways, but the most important is brushing.
Brushing removes any stains from the surface of your teeth and will stop them from becoming permanent. However, brushing will simply remove surface-level stains – deeper issues in your enamel will not be affected.
Remember to also give attention to the gums and tongue – plaque that can build up here can also discolor your teeth. Compliment your brushing with flossing, as removing buildups of plaque from between the gaps in your teeth will help whiten your smile.
The type of toothbrush should not have an effect, although it may be easier to clean your gums more effectively if you have a soft-bristled brush, as hard bristled ones will cause irritation and minor bleeding at first.
What can be discouraged is the use of mouthwash solely for the purpose of cleaning and whitening your teeth. Most mouthwashes will make your breath fresher – a benefit in itself – but will not directly affect the shade of your teeth. What may have more of a difference is chewing gum, as long as it is sugar and color-additive free. Between them, these habits will help you to maintain a healthy smile.
When we refer to ‘store-bought’ solutions, typically we mean either strips or gels directly marketed towards whitening your teeth. These have a tendency towards being cheaper but less efficient than dentist-related options. Strips are extremely popular, as they are relatively inexpensive. Effects begin to be seen after about seven days, and they can last for up to a year if diet and habits are favorable towards the process. They are cheap (between $15 and $60) and very easy to apply, but some people who have teeth sensitivity issues can suffer extremely sensitive teeth for several days after their use.
Gels are a slightly riskier option, and you should definitely consult your dentist before you think about using them. Peroxide-based cleaning agents, which gels are, can cause damage to your gums.
Gels, which are placed in a tray and then attached to your mouth, may cause damage if the tray is poorly fitted, which is exactly why you should call your dentist. If you want to be sure, you may need to ask your dentist to make a tray for the gel’s use. By brushing your teeth before application and making sure not to swallow any of the gel before you put it on and after, you will soon see a that your teeth are visibly whiter.
Talk To Your Dentist
Most in-office teeth whitening solutions are gel-based, like the Sapphire Teeth Whitening System employed by many local dentists, but the process is a little different from using at-home gels and will be typically be far more effective. This comes with the downside of also being more expensive.
Just like the gel-based solution at home, your dentist will make a tray fitting your teeth perfectly before the procedure. This precedes the actual procedure, which involves the use of gel and a laser light.
Firstly, your gums are covered and the gel is applied. Then, the laser is worked over your teeth, cleaning off the top layer of enamel. You may need as few as two and as many as five sessions for this to be completed. This removes discoloration and stains. As with home-based methods, you may notice small amount of sensitivity in the days following the process, but you will also be rewarded for your patience with very, very white teeth.
Regardless of the type of tooth whitening you’re considering, you should first talk to your dentist and find out what they recommend for your teeth. They are, after all, the experts.