When those perfect baby teeth begin to poke through the gums, they are a lovely pearly white color. So, why don’t they stay that way? We eat, we chew, we drink, and we live. Those things change our teeth, and sometimes we don’t love the changes. Luckily, there are things we can do to change that. But, how? Well, you could try the Ancient Roman method: swishing a cocktail of urine and goat milk.
Yeah, we didn’t think so.
They left us with many wonderful things such as the coliseum, gelato, and a very impressive aqueduct system, but let’s leave the Ancient Romans’ teeth whitening procedures safely in the past. There are several more modern (and less smelly) options for teeth whitening, but they generally fall into one of two categories:
- At Home
- At Our Office
Let’s take a look at your different options:
- Strips and Gels
These can be found in most stores. You brush a whitening gel onto your teeth or place a strip with the gel on it and let them sit. These are peroxide-based and usually need application once or twice a day for 10 to 14 days. There is a wide range of prices for these kits. Pay attention to reviews to help you pick the right option. If you don’t have far to go to get the white you want, one of these basic tools can achieve your goals easily.
- Tray-based systems
This is also a peroxide-based approach, as are many of the whitening methods. Research shows it works better than urine. Ok, no one has researched this, but we’ll go out on a limb here and make that assumption. This approach includes a tray, similar to a mouth guard, that you fill with a gel or paste and leave on your teeth for a few hours a day for up to four weeks. These are more expensive than the strips or gels, but can also be more effective, especially if you let us help! We’ll get to that later.
All toothpastes have some whitening capability because they are mildly abrasive. This helps clean the surface of your teeth and prevent staining. Whitening toothpastes go the extra step of having polishing agents or peroxide to increase their whitening potential. The kinds of toothpaste with peroxide won’t be as effective as the earlier methods because the toothpaste won’t sit on the teeth for as long.
The Risks of At-home Options
These different methods have the potential for helping you reach your whitening goals, but they can also have risks. Home-use strips, gels and trays are more likely to irritate your gums than professional ones. Also, they may not be able to pack the punch that professional options can so you might find yourself having to do many more applications with home kits than you would with the dentist-issued alternatives, which can be a hassle. Also, some home kits can go too far and even turn your teeth a grayish color instead of the gleaming white you’re looking for. They could also make your natural teeth whiter than your teeth that have crowns or filling, whereas a dentist-issued kit can help you get just the right amount of whiteness for whole-mouth uniformity.
If you decide to go with an at-home option, feel free to bring it in at your next appointment and we can take a look and help you avoid any unwanted side effects.
At Our Office
We have two main options for whitening your teeth.
- Custom Whitening Tray
You can buy whitening trays over the counter at your local pharmacy, but they will be a one-size-fits-all approach, which has its drawbacks. Not only will the size not be exact, it will be difficult for you to adjust it to the exact level of whiteness you seek. We can help there! We will create a mold for your teeth so the tray will fit comfortably as you wear it in the comfort of your own home. Talking about your goals will help us know how many treatments to send home with you and we will check in with your progress to adjust as needed.
- Porcelain Veneers
This is an option if you have tried whitening methods and still haven’t achieved your desired results. Porcelain veneers are a thin shell that we craft into a cover for your teeth. These will hide spots, cracks, and discoloration permanently. They have a lovely translucent appearance which helps them blend in with your natural teeth, drawing attention only to the beauty of your natural smile.
Once you have decided on a method and had success, there is still the issue of maintenance. Unless you plan on fasting the rest of your life, your teeth will be vulnerable to discoloration again. Last month we talked about some of the foods and drinks that can cause stains:
- Soy sauce
- Dark-colored fruits and vegetables
We’re not saying that you can’t partake of these things at all, but just be aware of their damaging potential. Tea, wine, and coffee can be especially dangerous to your white teeth. They pack the double punch of being dark in color and highly acidic, which is hard on the tooth’s protective enamel. You can limit their staining power by drinking plenty of water when you enjoy these items. And, of course, the age-old advice to brush, floss, and rinse will go a long way in maintaining your hard-earned pearly whites.
If you live in Kaysville, Layton, or West Haven and need help with teeth whitening options, make an appointment to visit with our nearby cosmetic dentistry specialists. We are here to help you have the healthiest, happiest smile you want. We can offer you whitening options that will leave your teeth bright and shiny, no urine required.