Your smile is your best friend. It helps you make friends, attract partners, and even get a job! According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 99.7% of Americans believe that it’s your most important social asset. Discolored teeth, however, can make smiles unattractive. Fortunately, if you’ve started to notice a yellow tinge to your grin, you have plenty of options for regaining those pearly whites.
Why do teeth get more yellow as we age?
Over the years, the hard enamel that encases your tooth can wear down and get tiny cracks. When this happens, the brown dentin underneath can show through, but in most cases, the enamel gets stained by the usual culprits: coffee, tea, red wine, and tobacco.
What do tooth whiteners do?
Almost all teeth whitening products use hydrogen peroxide, which is a bleaching agent that removes stains on the enamel. Different ones have different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, which will determine how quickly and effectively they work.
Why should I bother to whiten my teeth?
According to a study in PLOS One (a scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science) people judge whiter smiles as more attractive. Some dentists also speculate that people are motivated to take better care of brighter teeth because they like what they see in the mirror.
What are my tooth whitening options?
If you want fast and dramatic results, ask your dentist about in-office procedures. In most cases, Ideal Dental Solutions will apply a gel, such as the Zoom2! In-Office Whitening System, with a very high concentration of hydrogen peroxide and activate it with a UV lamp for several minutes. Your smile may lighten 4 to 10 shades, sometimes more, after one visit.
Although the in-office option costs more than others, it can be the best choice if you have sensitive teeth. And you can follow up with an at-home version if you still have some yellowing.
Custom gel trays
Ideal Dental Solutions can also give you an at-home option with custom gel trays. Molds will be taken of your teeth and used to create clear plastic trays that perfectly fit your mouth. Then, at home, you will fill the trays with a gel of about a 10-15% concentration of hydrogen peroxide solution Keep the tray on for a few minutes once or twice a day and your teeth will be shining brilliantly in no time. We will give you guidance while in the office, and don’t hesitate to ask any questions.
Although they’re more expensive than drugstore offerings, custom trays work better because they fit closely and ensure even coverage. The gels, such as NIGHTWHITE and DAYWHITE, are stronger than other at-home products, so you get results faster. You can often see improvement after just two or three applications.
Anything sold through the drug store will be cheaper, but has the tradeoff of being less powerful than professional alternatives. The gel trays and strips have about 6 to 10% concentration of hydrogen peroxide. Strips tend to stay in place a little better because generic trays rarely fit your mouth properly.
Whitening toothpastes and rinses have just 1 to 1.5% hydrogen peroxide. They’ll make little difference if you have bad stains. But if you haven’t seen any yellowing yet, they work well to help prevent future tarnishing.
Is it safe to whiten my teeth?
In most cases, you can use these products safely, but before you do anything, check with us. Sometimes, the discoloration comes from periodontal disease or decay, which needs treatment before you can consider whitening. Also, if you have tender gums, ask about the best options for your situation.
In some cases, you may feel sensitivity to hot or cold because the hydrogen peroxide can seep through the enamel and irritate the nerve. If this lasts more than a few days or if your gums change color, make an appointment right away. You should also call the office if you don’t see any improvement after two weeks.
How can I prevent stains on my teeth?
Once you’ve gotten that lovely, pearlescent shade back, you can keep your smile beautiful with a few precautions. If you smoke, now’s the time to quit. Also, limit coffee, tea, soda, and red wine. And don’t forget your regular brushing and flossing routine, which will remove food particles that could blemish your gorgeous chompers.
Our team of dentists at Ideal Dental Solutions in Arlington and Tysons Corner can be your strongest ally in keeping teeth healthy and sparkling. Stay current with regular check-ups, and if you haven’t seen us in a while or if you’d like to discuss whitening options, contact us for an appointment. We can help you get that dazzle back.