Whitening: 5 Things to Know Before Getting a Brighter Smile
One of the first things that people notice about you is your smile. In today’s youth-obsessed culture, a twenty-something with dingy teeth can appear older than a forty-something with a bright, white, sparkling smile. Here are five things to keep in mind as you embark on your tooth whitening journey to the gleaming smile you’ve always dreamed of:
1. Not all Whiteners are Created Equal. There are different strengths and even different whitening agents used depending on the way they are delivered. An at-home strip from the drugstore will have a lower concentration of active ingredients because it’s an over-the-counter product versus the dentist-made custom trays you use at home with their prescription-strength whitener. Even that whitener isn’t as concentrated as the chairside in-office treatments available on the market today.
2. Those Strips Aren’t for Everyone. Speaking of at-home strips, they may not be the most effective choice to whiten your teeth. They work best for people with straight teeth because they are designed to lay flat across your tooth surface. If you have misaligned or crooked teeth, the strip sometimes can’t get to all the nooks and crannies of the tooth, leaving some areas lighter than others giving you an uneven look.
3. Sensitivity Issues. A common side effect of whitening is tooth sensitivity. This happens because the gel contains an agent that opens the tubules, or pores, of the teeth allowing the whitening agent to do its thing. It usually subsides after a few hours but can last longer or feel more severe if you’ve left the whitening gel on too long. Desensitizing toothpaste can help relieve the sensitivity and avoiding hot or ice-cold food and drinks until the sensitivity subsides can help.
4. It’s Not Permanent. Generally speaking, you’ll need the occasional touch-up to keep that dazzling smile bright. Some methods last longer than others, and there are ways to keep your smile whiter, longer. Limit or avoid staining food and drinks like wine, juices, coffee, tea, smoking and chewing tobacco, especially for several hours after whitening. This will help increase the time between touch-ups. Of course, if that latte is calling your name, why fight it?
5. Natural tooth shades vary. It’s important to remember that there are several contributing factors to a person’s tooth color including age, the thickness of the enamel and shade of the dentin which lies under the enamel. The dentin makes up the bulk of a tooth’s structure, and can range in shade from brown, tan, yellow, and gray, and may not lighten to that ultra-white Hollywood smile even with the most potent in-office treatments. Other factors that might prevent a tooth from lightening are fluorosis spots, the gray cast of a silver filling or a nerve that has died. These generally require a deep, internal bleaching on a tooth-by-tooth basis or a more general, permanent restoration like veneers or crowns.
Our team can answer any questions you may have, and together, armed with this knowledge, we can help you find the method of whitening that fits not only your lifestyle but also your budget. Give us a call today!