Searching for the Perfect Shade of White

Do you have a captivating white smile? Many Americans are enamored with having the whitest teeth possible. But the reality is, a naturally healthy white smile can be just as alluring.

Teeth whitening (also known as bleaching) is the most requested cosmetic service at the dentist’s office. In addition, people spend more than $1.3 billion on over-the-counter teeth-whitening products, reports the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Often individuals become addicted to their dazzling white smiles and continually invest time and money to whiten their teeth. But if they whiten too often, it can damage teeth and gums.

Teeth-whitening products enhance the brightness of people’s smiles by removing brown and yellow stains that have accumulated on the teeth. Common causes of tooth discoloration are medications, coffee, tea, wine, colas, cigarettes, tobacco products, aging, poor dental hygiene and certain foods. A good rule of thumb is that anything that would leave a stain on a white tablecloth has the potential of discoloring your teeth.

Three Ways to Whiten Your Teeth

1.     Have your teeth bleached by your dentist – Solutions used by dentists contain a concentrated peroxide (bleach) solution, so teeth can be whitened by 12 to 14 shades in one treatment

2.     Purchase a kit from your dentist – Involves wearing a mouthpiece filled with a bleaching gel for several hours every day for about two weeks; following treatment, teeth should be whiter by eight shades

3.     Use over-the-counter whitening products – A variety of toothpastes and whitening strips are available at grocery, discount and drug stores; these products should help whiten teeth by at least two shades

Tips for Safe Use of Teeth-Whitening Products

  • Before using any type of teeth-whitening products, have your teeth and gums checked by your dentist
  • Follow directions provided by your dentist and on over-the-counter product packages; avoid over-bleaching to prevent damaging teeth and gums; teeth whitened too frequently may develop a translucent look or turn a blue or blue-gray color
  • Teeth-whitening products should not be used by children under age 16 because the nerves of their teeth still are developing; bleaching agents may cause teeth to become sensitive to hot and cold temperatures
  • Don’t strive for a Hollywood-white smile; many actors and actresses use veneers or crowns to achieve their stunning smiles

If you have whitened your teeth, what treatment process did you follow? – Scott Delisi, Ameritas Group