For literally thousands of years people have been making attempts at whitening their teeth. Ancient Romans had rather interesting methods for teeth whitening, they actually used urine! Clearly white teeth have been important to people for quite a long time. Nowadays we might not use urine, but we do use several different methods for whitening teeth. Your smile is important, and if you’ve been hesitant to flash it because of the color of your teeth then it’s time to take action. If you think you’re unique in your need to brighten and whiten your teeth then you are sorely mistaken. People realize that discoloration of teeth isn’t necessarily from lack of care. Even if you brush and floss on a daily basis your teeth will get darker and become discolored due to a variety of factors.
How Do Teeth Become Discolored?
If you’ve look at your kids (or friends’ kids) teeth, you’ll probably notice that they are extremely bright white. This will be particularly true if they still have their deciduous (baby) teeth. These teeth are just naturally whiter than adult teeth. Furthermore, as we age, our teeth will naturally get darker. Teeth become less porous with age, and this mineral structural change is what causes them to get darker. However, age is far from the only factor that contributes to discoloration in teeth. Let’s look at a few other factors:
- Foods (especially vegetables) rich in carotenoids or xanthonoids, pigments that cause darkening.
- Drinks like coffee, tea, wine, and colas can all lead to staining.
- Certain medications – one example is tetracycline, which is most commonly used to treat acne.
- Fluorosis – this condition is caused by overexposure to fluoride. It can stain teeth with a brown color that is very difficult to remove.
- Tobacco – both cigarette smoking and chewing tobacco will cause the browning and darkening of teeth. The longer someone has been smoking the worse it is.
- Poor oral hygiene – failing to properly care for your teeth and brush daily can exacerbate discoloration issues.
It should be clear by now that many different things have an impact on the color of your teeth. Even if you’re taking good care of them they might be turning yellow or brown on you! Getting teeth whitening done by a professional dentist is definitely nothing to be ashamed of. It’s rare to see someone who makes it through life with perfectly white teeth. Whitening is so popular these days that most general dentists offer the service. It’s easier than ever to find a teeth whitening dentist.
There are Choices When it Comes to Whitening
Whitening is so popular that there are a variety of options available to those looking for them. It’s generally wise to consider so all your options, so let’s go over a couple of them now. The American Dental Association (ADA) actually has a list of products it considers as legitimate for tooth whitening. These include; whitening over bleaching overseen by a dentist, either in-office or at-home, over-the-counter methods like strips and whitening toothpastes, and non-dental treatments like those seen in spas or mall kiosks. Even if you’re going with an over-the-counter or non-dental treatment, the ADA recommends an exam at your dentist’s office first. This is because they’ll be able to review your dental history and current situation and let you know if whitening will okay.
It seems to me that the best option for whitening is going to be with an experienced dentist. Your teeth are important, and I don’t want anyone who isn’t trained extensively working on mine. Your dentist is going to be familiar with your dental history and is going to let you know when things aren’t right for teeth whitening. They may even suggest an alternative method for treatment, such as veneers. Dentists have the best tools available and are always going to be the best option for teeth whitening.
What Is the Difference Between Bleaching and Whitening?
Though very similar, bleaching and whitening teeth are actually two different things. According to the FDA, bleaching occurs only when teeth are whitened to a point BEYOND their original condition. This means bleaching your teeth makes them whiter than they’ve ever been. Whitening is a bit different, as it simply RESTORES teeth to their original condition. In cases where the stains are severe, bleaching may be necessary. Since the process uses powerful chemicals, it should always be overseen by a dentist. Both whitening and bleaching can be effective treatments for stained and discolored teeth.
Treating with the Dentist – At-home or In-office?
If you’ve decided to whiten your teeth with a dentist, smart move. However, there is still a decision left to be made. You’ll need to figure out if you want to treat in-office or at your house. There are advantages to both, check it out:
For the fastest and most dramatic results, treat with a dentist in-office. This is great if you’ve got a big event the next day that you want to be able to smile big for. In-office treatments use a powerful gel with a high concentration of peroxide, the main whitening or bleaching agent. The dentist will apply the gel and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes on the teeth. This allows time for the gel to work into the enamel and lift stubborn stains. The process may be repeated for about an hour depending on how bad the teeth are. Sometimes it’s necessary for the patient to come back for further visits to continue the process.
For people looking for a less expensive treatment options, there are professional take home whitening kits offered by most dentists. They are fairly easy to use, and typically last a very long time. This makes them perfect for those looking for long-term solutions. The same gel is used for these at-home kits, but it doesn’t have nearly a high amount of peroxide in them, making them safer to use.
If you’re dark, dingy, or discolored teeth have been bothering you the time to act is now. Talk to your dentist and see what whitening procedures they have available.