As time goes by your teeth can lose their sparkle and become dull and stained. This staining happens as a result of activities such as drinking coffee and tea, red wine, smoking, and also just due to the natural ageing process. Having a less than white smile can seriously affect your self-image. It can even become such a problem that you might be tempted to avoid smiling out of embarrassment.
This does not have to be your story! There are lots of things you can do to make that smile shiny and new again. Some methods are more effective than others, and you should always consult a good dentist first before trying any of them. However, stained teeth is not a permanent condition. It’s possible to start a treatment right away and smiling again within a few months.
Consulting with your dentist first is especially important if you have any dental issues such as receding gums, or if you have any tooth crowns in place. Your dentist will be able to recommend the right treatment for you depending on your individual needs. Your dentist may also recommend tooth veneers if you have very uneven or different shaded teeth.
Otherwise, here is everything you need to know about common dental procedures that will help you gain your confidence back.
Bleaching done by a dental practitioner is said to be the most effective as well as the quickest whitening method. The active agents that a dental practice will use will be much stronger at targeting tooth stains than products you can buy at the supermarket or drug store. This means you will get much faster and better results.
By going to a proper dentist, you can also be assured that whitening will be done in the right way and that the tissues of your mouth will be better protected from the ingredients used to whiten your teeth. As the active agents used typically include carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide, this is worth considering. Dentists will also use tools and ingredients that will look after the enamel of your teeth.
The other great thing about going to a dentist is that once the procedure has been done, you won’t need to go back for a follow-up whitening appointment for more than a year. Most dentists can help you at the dental practice, or give you something to use at home. Both ways, you will be getting face-to-face advice and you can always call them for more information if you need it later on.
Bleaching can, however, increase tooth sensitivity after the procedure. If you struggle with sensitive teeth as it is, this may not then be the best choice for you.
If the teeth bleaching method doesn’t appeal to you, you can buy whitening kinds of toothpaste at most pharmacies or supermarkets. These will take a while longer to show results, and may still not quite have the effect you are looking for, but they do work.
All kinds of toothpaste all have lightly abrasive materials in them to take away stains and other undesirables from your teeth, but whitening pastes have extra chemicals or ingredients for tooth polishing. Whitening pastes usually don’t whiten the teeth, however. They contain ingredients that simply help to remove stains.
The products are best used in conjunction with a change of your teeth staining habits, i.e. if you stop smoking, and drinking coffee. If this method fits your needs, make sure that the toothpaste you choose has been approved by dental governing bodies such as the Canadian Dental Association (CDA). This will ensure that you will be using only properly tested ingredients, thereby making the product safest for your teeth and giving you peace of mind.
Tooth Whitening Strips or Gels
You can also get strips or gels that you can use at home to whiten your teeth from your drug store. The main active ingredient in both of these is again, peroxide.
The gel product that you buy will come with its instructions, but often the gel should be put on each tooth with a brush. It usually takes a couple of days for the gel to work, and this will be effective for about four months or so.
Strips work in almost the same way as gels. They appear as see-through strips and contain ingredients with a peroxide base. With this method, you will need to apply the strips twice a day, for half an hour every time.
You will notice that your teeth are whiter in a few days. You will have to continue to do this for two weeks, and again the effect will be in place for around four months.
Your dentist may even be able to customize a plan using strips for you rather than you using a product bought from a shop.
Tooth Whitening Dangers
While most tooth whitening methods are said to be safe by professionals, it’s possible that you will experience some side-effects. These include:
- Sensitive teeth
- Gum irritation
- Gingival inflammation
If you are worried about side-effects, there are some home remedies you may prefer to try. Many of these have not been scientifically proven to work, however.
Some home remedies include:
- Brushing with activated charcoal or bicarbonate of soda
- Using apple cider vinegar
- Fruit and vegetables known for cleaning properties such as lemon
- Oil pulling
Many people also use turmeric as a whitening agent, as counter-intuitive as that may sound. You should consider adapting your habits to minimize tooth stains as well. You should always discuss any method with your dentist though beforehand.
In short, whitening your teeth is possible, but you should do some thorough research. You should also have a chat with a dentist about the best method for you before you start your whitening journey.