No one wants dingy or yellowed teeth. Everyone’s goal is to have beautiful, sparkling white teeth. With the number of teeth whitening products and procedures now available, it appears that where teeth are concerned, the whiter the better.
Teeth whitening can be done at home or professionally in a dentist’s office. Either way, today teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic procedure enjoyed in the United States.
All teeth whitening techniques work best on natural teeth. They are not as effective on veneers, bonded or crowned teeth. It is important to note that no form of teeth whitening is permanent. Depending upon the chosen technique, the results last for one to twelve months, and then will need to be repeated to maintain the same level of whiteness. Most teeth whitening methods cause some degree of tooth sensitivity, which is one of the key risks of this popular cosmetic procedure.
Safe Whitening Practices
Teeth whitening should be avoided by people who are pregnant or nursing, those who suffer from gum disease, those who have cracked teeth or dental caries and/or people younger than 16 years of age. These groups face some safety issues, especially the risk of advancing or worsening any existing oral conditions.
From a safety and efficacy standpoint, professional teeth whitening, rather than the variety of available home treatments, delivers the best and fastest results. However, professional teeth whitening can be expensive. If price is no concern, professional teeth whitening treatment is the way to go.
To maintain a high standard of safety, consult with a cosmetic dentist to determine the best choice based upon your health and dental history.
Who Needs the White Glove Treatment?
Those with sensitive teeth need to heed the warning that teeth whitening can enhance the sensitivity, at least temporarily. For some people, the heightened sensitivity lasts months after a whitening treatment. Those with hypersensitive teeth can choose a simpler whitening technique by using:
- Over-the-counter whitening toothpaste on a daily basis to provide minimal whitening
- Teeth whitening rinses used twice-a-day for minimal whitening over a 12-week period
Pregnancy and nursing make the gums much more sensitive due to hormone fluctuation. The chemicals used in teeth whitening can further impact the gums during this time so should be avoided.
Those with frequent dental caries (cavities) or gum disease should avoid teeth whitening as it can cause additional damage to the affected areas. Alternate methods to lighten and brighten teeth in these cases can include more natural techniques such as:
- Eating crunchy foods like carrots, apples, popcorn and celery, which work as abrasives to clean the teeth.
- Use baking soda to brush teeth at least once a week
- Brush teeth using salt, instead of toothpaste, to remove stains
- Gargle with apple cider vinegar to remove stains and kill oral bacteria
- A very natural and safe teeth whitening trick is to rub the backside of an orange or lemon peel over the surface of the teeth to enhance the whitening. Adding a touch of salt to either peel can deliver even better results.
Basic good oral hygiene sets the standard for white teeth. The basic tips include:
- Regular visits to the dentist
- Brushing teeth at least twice a day
- Flossing daily
- Avoiding foods that contain a lot of sugar or acid
- Avoiding staining substances like red wine, coffee and tea
- Quit smoking
Start with these oral hygiene basics and engage the advice of a qualified dentist to determine the next and safest step to further whiten dingy teeth.