As we get older, those nice white teeth we remember having as children start getting more and more yellowed. This happens naturally as the mineral structure of tooth enamel changes, but it can also be sped along by bad habits and certain types of medication. Not everyone is content to let nature take its course. Some prefer to turn to teeth whitening methods to regain their former brilliance. Some methods can be done at home, others need to be performed by a dentist.
The most common over the counter tooth whitening products are gel strips impregnated with a bleaching agent that you apply over your teeth for a certain amount of time. The chemicals in the bleaching strips - usually carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide - work by penetrating into your teeth and oxidizing the stains. Some strips only take a few minutes or hours to work, so you can put them on while your kids nap or before you go to bed.
Depending on the concentration of the bleaching gel, it can take several weeks to appreciably alter the whiteness of your teeth. If you want a quicker solution, your local dentist and dental clinics may offer a high-concentration bleach treatment or laser bleaching. Some types of stains do not respond to these methods (such as staining from medication) so you might have to save up to pay for veneers or dental bonding if this is the case with you.
If your teeth only need a little bit of whitening or if you're only interested in maintaining the current level of tooth whiteness, there are a variety of low concentration products such as toothpastes, mouth washes, and chewing gums that help to whiten teeth. You can help your teeth along by avoiding products that cause staining. This means refraining from drinking red wine during your meals, cutting back on your coffee and tea drinking, avoiding heavily dyed foods like berries and candy, and quitting smoking.
Before you decide to do any sort of teeth whitening, you should talk to your dentist. He or she will need to examine you and ask you questions to see if your body may have a reaction to the bleaching. The risks associated with tooth whitening include sensitive teeth, receding gums, reduction of tooth enamel, and oral irritation, but only in certain cases. If you are unhappy with your stained teeth and want to brighten your smile, may we suggest you talk to the expert team at Lake Street Dental if you are in the area - they are experts in all the latest techniques!