Smile! Is your smile as bright as it should be? Like most people, you probably use daily brushing and flossing to make sure your teeth stay healthy. However, if your smile has become less white, you may want to consider teeth whitening to enhance your smile.
There are many reasons your teeth may have become less white. Regular consumers of coffee, tea and even red wine may find that their teeth have become stained; users of tobacco products may also have stained teeth due to the effects of tar and nicotine.
Injuries to the mouth may cause teeth colour to change because the tooth affected will react by producing a substance called dentin, which will produce a darker layer beneath the tooth enamel. Some medications such as some taken for high blood pressure, antipsychotics and antihistamines, will discolour teeth; chemotherapy treatments will also sometimes cause tooth colour to become darker.
Also, just getting older will cause changes in tooth colour. As we age, the external layer of our teeth will thin due to tooth brushing and dentin will be visible, making the teeth a more yellow colour.
For these reasons, many of us turn to teeth whitening to improve our smile.
So what it teeth whitening? It is a bleaching process that breaks up stains into smaller parts. This bleaching, which uses either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, causes the darker colours or stains to be reduced so that your teeth look brighter.
There are three main procedures to whiten teeth: using a whitening toothpaste, getting your teeth bleached at a dentist’s office, or bleaching your teeth at home.
Whitening toothpastes will have an ADA seal to let you know they are safe for teeth whitening. They contain polishing agents that will help remove stains. However, they cannot produce a change in tooth color since they are only effective in removing surface stains and they usually whiten the teeth only a shade lighter.
When you go to the dentist’s office to get your teeth bleached, it usually takes one visit; however, if your teeth are very dark or stained, it may take several sessions. This a fairly simple procedure and usually lasts half an hour to an hour. First, a gel or a rubber shield will be put on your gums to protect them. Than the dentist will apply bleach on your teeth and may use a laser to boost the effectiveness of the bleach to whiten your teeth. Your teeth will generally become three to eight shades lighter than before. You will probably need to redo the process every six months to maintain same whiteness, especially if you continue to consume staining foods or drinks or use tobacco products. The initial procedure usually costs around 600 dollars, with maintenance costs varying.
Home kits contain whiteners with a peroxide-based agent that will whiten the tooth enamel. Usually in a gel form, it is put in a tray the goes on your teeth or as a strip that is attached to the teeth. The kits used at home have a lower concentration of the bleach than the bleaching agent that is used in the dentist’s office. With strips, this process takes a little longer; most people need to do this twice daily for around two weeks. The price is much cheaper, with most kits in the £10 to £30 range. Your teeth will stay white for around four months and then the process will need to be repeated.
The tray kits have to be worn for a few hours a day and may take a month for best results. We can buy these at most pharmacies over-the –counter and can also get one from your dentist that is made specifically for your mouth. The costs are higher and are an average of £100 to £300; the ones created by your dentist will be on the higher end of the scale.
No matter which option you are interested in, it’s generally a good idea to consult with a dentist (Make sure they are an AACD member) and get their advice on which one will be the best for you.
Is teeth whitening for everyone? Unfortunately, the answer is no. This is another reason why talking to your dentist first is a good idea.
If you have crowns, fillings, veneers, or caps, whitening will not be effective. Any cavities you have will need to be filled before you get your teeth whitened since the bleaching substance can get into the decayed areas and inside the tooth and cause your tooth to become extremely sensitive. Also, if your teeth are discoloured due to an injury or medication, this procedure will probably not be for you.
This procedure is one appropriate only for adults; children who get their teeth whitened may find that their teeth have become extremely sensitive. If you are breastfeeding or pregnant, you should avoid this procedure.
If you have very sensitive gums and teeth, it is essential consult your dentist inin first. this also applies if you have receding gums, gum disease, or teeth with the roots exposed; the procedure will not be effective since there is no layer of enamel on roots.
We may wonder why we should do this procedure, especially since it is a cosmetic one. One good reason is that our smile makes a very strong impression on others. A 2012 survey carried out by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry revealed that almost half of the people surveyed believe that it doesn’t matter how old you are – our smile is our best feature. And 99.7 percent agree that a good smile helps us socially, while 74 percent believe an unappealing smile can damage our chances for employment.
We may also want to improve our confidence, look better in photos, make a good impression at a class reunion or other social event or simply look younger and like what we see in the mirror each morning.