by Dr. Sean
What makes an attractive, pleasing smile?
In answering this question, most people would make some mention of white teeth. Various products and procedures exist improve the colour or ”whiten” the teeth.
When looking to enhance your smile, whitening teeth can be considered quite conservative and offers good value – compared to other methods of improving a smile (such as braces, veneers, fillings, etc.). The desire for whiter teeth has seen an increase in the availability of over the counter products, blogs spruiking ‘natural’ alternatives, dentists marketing in every available medium and even beauty salons entering the market. So what actually works?
Will it be suitable for you?
We are asked on a daily basis “how can I make my teeth whiter” so here are the ways to do it.
Firstly, we’ll take a look at over the counter products, or those you can find on supermarket shelves and pharmacies. These whitening products come in a variety of mediums including pastes, mouth rinses, strips and so on.
1. Whitening Pastes
Supermarket shelves are now stacked with toothpastes offering whitening results. Every toothpaste brand will have one or more “whitening” variations. So do these work? Yes and no. The main difference with these toothpastes is that they will contain more abrasive particles and other products to lift surface stains from the teeth. Surface stains may include tea/coffee stains, red wine, smoking and others. The actual bleaching effect is likely to be minimal – there are strict regulations that allow only small amounts of peroxide in toothpastes.
In a nutshell – if you regularly develop surface stains from habits such as daily tea drinking, a whitening toothpaste may help remove these stains and thus make your teeth appear whiter.
Unfortunately, it is not always surface staining that makes our teeth look less appealing than what we would prefer. Deeper staining ‘within’ the teeth will not alter from the addition of an abrasive, and in these cases – bleaching may be indicated.
2. Teeth Bleaching with Whitening Strips
We all love an affordable, convenient solution.
Whitening strips offer these attributes and may provide a decent whitening effect.
Whitening strips are also available over-the-counter. We would still recommend you consult a dentist before considering use of a bleaching product.
Strips contain a form of peroxide – either carbamide peroxide or hydgrogen peroxide, in a percentage that is safe to use at home.
3. Teeth bleaching – Professional
Before considering the two options listed above, we generally recommend discussing your options with the dentist at your routine check-up and clean appointment.
This way we can tailor a solution to your particular situation. Each situation is unique and what’s appropriate for one person is not always appropriate for the next.
For example, your teeth may be looking darker when you smile, and so you go and try an abrasive toothpaste for 3 months. The problem is that your teeth are looking darker due to acid erosion and thinning enamel. The abrasive toothpaste will only make the situation worse! And potentially result in sensitive teeth.
Professional teeth whitening is another option. We recommend (where appropriate) a take-home bleaching system. This involves fabrication of custom made trays (like a thin mouthguard) which are used to carry the bleach solution.
Like the whitening strips, the bleach solution consists of either Carbamide Peroxide or Hydrogen Peroxide – the difference being we can provide the strongest percentage available. For this reason, the results can be much more drastic. Used on the right person, take home bleaching can have profound results.
To see if you are suitable, we just need a short appointment to assess your teeth. Then we can take some moulds of the teeth and a technician will fabricate your custom trays. We then provide you with the trays and a tooth whitening kit.
The best thing about having custom trays is that you can keep them for years and re-bleach when you like.
The cost of professional teeth whitening at Bay Dental Brighton can be found in our pricing section. Remember – not everyone is suitable for this treatment, so we need to assess your teeth first. We can discuss alternative methods if you are not suitable.
4. Back to Basics – the most important way to keep your teeth shiny and white.
Brushing AND flossing
Not only will you prevent dental disease (decay, gum disease, etc) but you will keep your teeth looking youthful and white.
We see a lot of stain between teeth – so don’t forget to floss daily or use an interproximal brush.
Brush with a soft toothbrush or use an electric toothbrush. The ‘Sonic’ types of electric toothbrush may remove more surface stains than conventional electric toothbrushes.
Maintain a diet that is low in acidic food and beverage. We commonly see teeth ”yellowing” as a result of thinning enamel. Thinning enamel can be a result of a diet high in acid – causing loss of tooth structure. Once enamel is lost, it is gone forever. The tooth under the enamel is yellow, thus will become more prominent as the enamel thins.
The result is yellower teeth, and a situation that is more difficult to rectify with standard teeth whitening methods.
5. Professional scaling and cleaning
Your teeth will become ‘naturally’ whiter after a professional scale and clean. This will remove all plaque, calculus (yellowish hard build-up) and surface stains. Not to mention the main benefit of a clean- to ensure healthy gums and prevent dental disease.
For stubborn or widespread staining, we can use an air abrasion system – prophyflex.
Contact Bay Dental Brighton for an appointment today. We are happy to discuss the most appropriate whitening treatment for your teeth.
Summer is fast approaching!