Ready to smile a little wider?
According to a survey by Harris Interactive, 89% of adults identified a bright or white smile as a key component in making a good first impression. Of course, this isn’t really news; the value of a bright smile is probably something that you’ve known all along. The makers of teeth-whitening systems know it too, and the market is flooded with products all claiming to be the perfect solution to the problem of having less-than-radiant teeth. In fact, whiter teeth is the number-one thing that most dental patients would change about their smiles, with approximately 90% of dental patients requesting some form of whitening service.
However, even if every teeth-whitening product claims to be the end-all answer to your cuspid conundrum, the truth is that not all teeth-whitening products are alike. Some are safer, more economical, and achieve faster and better results than others, and some are basically snake oil and baking soda. Finding something that can actually get the job done can be a difficult endeavor, which brings us to that all important question:
How do you choose the best teeth-whitening solution for you?
To clear up the confusion and address any questions or concerns you may have about how to whiten teeth, we’ve provided this helpful guide to a whiter, brighter smile.
The Importance of Good Tooth Care
In searching for the best way to whiten teeth, it’s important not to overlook the role of good tooth care in promoting not just a healthy smile, but also a healthy you.
Studies show a strong correlation between the health of your mouth and the overall health of the rest of your body. In fact, a clear relationship has been shown between gum disease and health complications such as stroke and heart disease. In addition, dry mouth, mouth ulcers, and excessive gum problems can be oral manifestations of much more serious systemic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. Additionally, these issues show up more frequently in women than men.
Practicing good oral hygiene begins with brushing regularly with a properly designed toothbrush, such as the ISSA electric toothbrush with Sonic Pulse Technology. Flossing routinely, along with getting regular dental checkups, are also important in making sure that the teeth you plan to whiten are straight, strong, and healthy, and that the rest of you remains healthy as well.
How White Teeth Affect Your Appearance
We see it ourselves as we interact with people every day. Unfair though it may be, those with whiter teeth are generally better regarded than those whose teeth are stained and yellowed. At the same time, people with bright, white teeth have greater self-esteem and tend to smile more when interacting with others. Flashing your bright smile frequently will make you appear happier, more attractive, and more self-confident to everyone you come in contact with.
Causes of Tooth Discoloration
The primary causes of superficial tooth-enamel discoloration are many and varied. Stain-causing foods and beverages such as coffee, tea, wine, cola drinks, sports drinks, hard candies, berries, and tomato sauce have all been linked to tooth discoloration. The use of tobacco products is also a contributing factor to tooth discoloration. Even for those who manage to avoid all of these potential triggers, things such as age or even genetics may still cause teeth to darken.
Ways to Whiten Teeth
Peroxide bleaching trays first found their way into dental offices in the late 1980’s. Since that time, teeth whitening has become a multi-billion dollar industry and a number of myths and misconceptions about teeth-whitening products and processes have emerged.
To help you in your search for the best teeth-whitening product or system for you, here’s a look at the pro’s and con’s of various whitening methods and products, in an effort to help you separate fact from fiction:
As mentioned above, a number of dietary foods and beverages contribute to discolored teeth. And while avoiding many of these items, such as tobacco products, coffee, tea, cola, and sports drinks is one solution, some of the items on the list, such as berries and tomato sauces, are loaded with health promoting antioxidants. These should be used in moderation as opposed to being strictly cut out of your diet.
Using a straw, swallowing promptly, and swishing with water can all help to protect teeth from prolonged exposure to stain causing foods and beverages in your diet.
As for foods that may help the whitening process, strawberries, nuts, apples, oranges, pears, hard cheeses, celery, carrots, and even broccoli are examples of foods that are said to have various teeth-whitening properties.
Homemade Whitening Remedies
Just as there are many factors at play when it comes to discoloring teeth, so too is it possible to whiten a smile with simple, everyday items. Naturally, these home remedies aren’t always as effective for some people as they are for others, but some might well be worth a try. Here are a few to consider.
Baking soda + lemon juice paste
This whitening remedy combines the mildly abrasive and acid-neutralizing properties of baking soda with the purported natural bleaching properties of lemon juice.
Directions: Mix several teaspoons of baking soda with enough fresh lemon juice to form a paste,and apply to teeth with a toothbrush. Rinse after one minute.
Effectiveness: While the abrasive properties of baking soda may be of some benefit, the whitening effects of lemon juice are marginal at best, and the acidic nature of the lemon juice, which the baking soda is supposed to counteract, may still cause erosion of the enamel over time.
Strawberry + salt + baking soda
High in vitamin C, which can break down discoloring plaque, and malic acid, which is said to help remove surface stains, strawberries are the main ingredient in this homemade remedy. Salt’s abrasive properties and baking soda’s buffering abilities also play a supporting role.
Directions: Mash large strawberries into a pulp, add a dash of salt and ½ tsp baking soda, and apply the mix generously to your toothbrush and brush on, making sure that all teeth are coated. Rinse after 5 minutes.
Effectiveness: Repeated nightly, this remedy may exhibit slight teeth-whitening benefits.
In addition to being a nutritious addition to any diet, the whitening effect of coconut oil is said to come from the antibacterial properties of lauric acid, which is purported to rid the teeth of the bacteria found in plaque that can cause yellow discoloration. Coconut oil is also said to promote general gum health and fresh breath.
Directions: Before brushing your teeth each morning, scoop out roughly 1 tablespoonful of coconut oil and put it in your mouth. Now maneuver the oil through and around your teeth for 10–15 minutes then spit, rinse, and brush your teeth.
Effectiveness: Coconut oil seems to have a pronounced impact on tooth health, and continued use may lead to a whiter, brighter smile, overall.
Store-Bought Teeth-Whitening Products
Although there are some teeth-whitening benefits to be found in certain everyday items and foodstuffs, for more dramatic results, you’ll probably have to look beyond your kitchen cupboard. Store-bought whitening agents may be able to succeed where simpler remedies fail.
On the other hand, some store bought substances may not have any noticeable effect at all. Perhaps even more importantly, certain types of teeth can actually be damaged by at-home whitening procedures, so speak with your dentist before you get started. Here is a quick breakdown of the various types of whitening-products that are available over the counter
Given the fact that most of us are already brushing our teeth multiple times a day, it only makes sense to want to take advantage of that routine and introduce whitening agents into our toothpaste.
Effectiveness: Before you put all of your faith in whitening-toothpaste, you should know that most of these pastes are good for removing surface stains only. Special abrasives combined with chemicals used to break down residues are wonderful for keeping teeth clean (especially when used in conjunction with the right kind of toothbrush), but they simply are not able to penetrate the surface of the tooth to deal with deep discoloration. Some toothpastes do contain the chemical blue covarine, which coats the surface of the tooth to give teeth a whiter appearance, but the effect is temporary.
Teeth-whitening strips and kits operate in much the same way. The basic idea is that a whitening agent (usually peroxide or bleach) is positioned against the teeth in question. The chemical breaks apart the pigment, leaching it out of the tooth.
Effectiveness: Again, this method is really only effective when dealing with surface stains; naturally yellow teeth won’t see much benefit. The level of effectiveness is also dependant upon how much whitening agent is being used. The main advantage of whitening strips and trays is that they are generally very inexpensive. Still, for something that you can get over the counter, they work well enough.
Similarly to strips and trays, most whitening pens use peroxide (and other chemicals) to bleach tooth enamel. The user simply brushes the outside surface of each tooth, and then leaves the peroxide paste to sit on the surface of the teeth for at least 30 minutes.
Effectiveness: The effectiveness of teeth-whitening pens is difficult to gauge, as there are those who swear by them, and others who claim that they don’t work at all. But given that they use similar chemicals to whitening trays and strips, they are likely about as effective overall. Still, the application procedure is different, and that may make some difference.
For stains and discolorations that aren’t responding to over-the-counter remedies, it may be necessary to consider seeking professional help. A dentist will be able to accurately evaluate the needs of your teeth, and provide you with a number of options personally suited to your situation. Here are a few treatments available to those who would like some professional assistance in gaining the perfect shade for their smiles.
Although dentists use some of the same basic principles as those used at home, they also provide certain advantages unavailable over the counter. For one thing, dentists can provide closer supervision of the process to help ensure its effectiveness. They can also use a much more concentrated chemical solution for quicker, more noticeable results.
In-office whitening generally consists of two coats of hydrogen peroxide bleach. Some whitening procedures also incorporate intense, tightly focused light to help activate the bleaching process. The dentist is then able to take note of results, and then may choose to apply more coats of bleach, if need be. The full treatment may stretch across several appointments. A basic in-office whitening procedure will likely cost you about $500.
Although it may seem like the height of futuristic technology to be able to whiten teeth with a laser, the process itself is actually not too different from the basic in-house whitening described above. The difference is that once the active whitening compound has been applied to the teeth, the dentist will then use a small, pen-sized laser to activate the compound on each individual tooth.
The compound will react, and lift away any stains. The key advantage here is that the dentist will be able to focus his or her full attention on each tooth, rather than having to approach all of the teeth collectively. This makes it possible to address specific problem areas. Laser teeth-whitening may be the most effective procedure currently available, but it is also the most expensive, so consider other options before you commit to it. A single laser teeth-whitening session can cost upwards of $1000.
Having a beautiful, white smile is about more than just trying to look good; a white smile can give you the confidence you need to really be yourself. After all, your true beauty is found on the inside, but a clean, bright smile is a direct path towards letting that beauty really shine. Just remember that a brighter smile is not something that you’ll likely be able to achieve overnight. Even the most effective dentist procedures sometimes take time before they begin to produce results. So, whatever approach you decide to take, be patient, stick to it, and don’t give up if you don’t see a vast improvement right away.
Your teeth are important. Show them the attention they deserve by giving them a chance to really shine. Because having the white teeth you’ve always wanted is certainly something worth smiling about.
Click here for more information on how your tooth-brushing technique might be harming your gums.
Disclaimer: The information on this website and any related links are for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, contact a professional healthcare provider.