A bride or groom feeling self-conscious about their smile may ask a wedding photographer to use Photoshop for the illusion of having white teeth in their wedding photos. Perhaps you’ve adjusted the settings on Instagram to hide a yellow tinge in your own smile before sharing a social media post. In real life, we can’t hide behind layers of pixels. Every time we encounter someone face-to-face, they see our teeth and recognize whether the enamel is yellowed or stained.
If you’ve worried about the appearance of your smile, perhaps you’ve researched how to whiten your teeth at home. Maybe you’ve wondered “how much does professional teeth whitening cost?” without ever following through to find out. But while the Internet may offer lots of ways to cut corners and save money, including home remedies for removing plaque naturally, you may not want to experiment with unqualified advice off the web about do-it-yourself bleaching yours with chemicals that may not even do anything.
Cosmetic services by a professional dentist, on the other hand, come with the expectation that procedures for teeth whitening to decrease such discoloration will be safely performed and prove effective, leading to better results and, in turn, more self-confidence.
In this month's blog, Tedford Family Dentistry (which offers teeth whitening at our Ooltewah TN dentist office) wants to shed some light on real solutions to this common issue.
What’s the Best way to Whiten Teeth?
Does Baking Soda Whiten Teeth?There is some merit to the idea of brushing with baking soda because it contains natural whitening properties, adds alkaline to your mouth that deters bacteria growth, and it is a mild abrasive so brushing with it can work sort of like buffing away stains while scrubbing your tub clean.
Studies of toothpaste containing baking soda do suggest some whitening occurs, although there’s no proof that it makes you ready for your close-up overnight.
Does hydrogen peroxide whiten teeth?If you are considering peroxide teeth whitening, you might experience more success if you ask your dentist to mold a gel tray to your mouth. Most of the products on pharmacy shelves are made to fit most mouths rather than being a snug fit for more optimal results.
Mixing hydrogen peroxide heavily diluted with mouthwash may help overall with oral hygiene because of its ability to kill bacteria. But be careful to avoid strong concentrations or overuse, which may result in irritation or increased tooth sensitivity.
Some other supposed natural teeth whitening methods include eating pineapples, mixing baking soda with strawberries, drinking apple cider vinegar, using activated charcoal, Kaolin clay, fruit peels, but there’s no scientific evidence these substances work effectively and are safe. In fact, excessive use could actually damage teeth. A diet high in fruits and vegetables is good for you, but don’t expect to wake up with a dazzling white smile after eating some the night before and remember that berries can stain teeth.
Some solutions may only clean stains on the surface of teeth but not last long. Discontinue using any home remedies or commercially-available whiteners if you experience serious tooth sensitivity. To reduce the risk of using unsafe products, we recommend you look for the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.
Consider a Professional Teeth Whitening TreatmentDuring professionally applied treatments, dentists may use higher concentrations of bleaching solutions that aren’t available in over-the-counter products, but you have the comfort of knowing that procedures are done under supervision with protective steps taken before we begin.
Discoloration involves increased visibility of Dentin, a yellowish tissue under the enamel of a tooth, over time. Thinning of the enamel is a root cause of discoloration, so it’s wise to involve your dentist in the solution. Regular cleanings at the dentist’s office prevent the build-up of plaque. Keep on a schedule to stop plaque build-up. The best approach for whitening teeth at home may be to stay persistent in regular brushing and flossing.
The Bottom Line: It Can Take Weeks to Notice ResultsWhen trying to get whiter teeth, patience is needed. It's dangerous to risk a “quick fix” solution in search of expediency. You need to talk to your dentist before trying any of the things we've covered here. He or she could save you time and money, along with protecting your gums from chemical oversaturation.
Take Action to Prevent further Tooth StainsWhitening won’t be a major problem if you limit exposure to the things that stain teeth in the first place, like coffee, red wine, sodas, and dark berries. Avoid smoking and chewing tobacco too. Some changes to your diet can also help things along. Foods with calcium can help protect teeth erosion while eating less sugar can lead to less plaque buildup on teeth.
It’s understandable that we want to present a gorgeous white smile that communicates health and good hygiene, but we need to be careful and avoid risking damage from chemical remedies that aren’t proven to work. The best thing for patients to be is to be patient and not expect overnight results. Meanwhile, make some dietary changes, limit exposure to staining foods and beverages, and keep brushing and flossing daily to help see improvement.
Talk to your dentist before you try whitening your teeth with chemical solutions at home. Saving a little money, but correcting damage caused by careless use may cost more in the long run.