Teeth whitening is the single most popular cosmetic dental procedure on the planet, and thanks to modern dental technology, everyone can afford to have his or her teeth bleached professionally.
The ancient Egyptians would whiten their teeth with ground pumice mixed with vinegar. As unpleasant as it may sound, the ancient Romans used urine for teeth whitening. The ammonia found in urine acts as a bleaching agent because of the acidic content. During the 16th century, barbers got into the act. After a shave and a haircut, the barber would file down the surface of the teeth before applying acid. This worked wonders, but it also eroded the tooth’s enamel, which led to tooth decay.
Thankfully, these days you do not have to resort to ancient teeth whitening methods as there are dozens of over the counter teeth whitening products available.
Before you shell out the bucks for a teeth whitening kit, make an appointment with your dentist who can determine if you are a good candidate for teeth whitening altogether. People who have crowns, root canals and other dental restorative work will not see a difference when it comes to teeth whitening as tooth bleaching will only work on natural teeth. Your dentist may also recommend professional teeth whitening, which can last for quite some time as long as you avoid red wine, tobacco products, and any other food or liquid that has a tendency to dull your pearly whites. Professional tooth whitening, is not permanent, and may need to be retouched every few years.
Professional tooth bleaching requires two visits with your dentist. During your first tooth whitening appointment, your dentist will create molds of your teeth so that your clear, custom tooth whitening trays fit perfectly. After your trays are made, you will be checked for proper fit at your second dental appointment. Your dentist will give you a whitening solution that works with your tooth bleaching trays. Depending on the degree of staining on your teeth, you will either wear your trays thirty minutes twice a day, or overnight for about two weeks.
Tooth bleaching works best for patients who have stained or yellowed teeth, outer layer wear on teeth or stained teeth due to tetracycline, and other medications. If you were subjected to excessive fluoride when your teeth were developing you may have flourosis that can be helped with professional tooth whitening.
After you have the desired results from your professional teeth whitening treatment, there are some things you can do to keep your teeth white and bright.
Avoid coffee, tea, red wine, and tobacco products. Some spices can also stain your teeth. Go easy on the curry powder and rinse after eating colorful foods.
Brushing and flossing not only helps keep your teeth white, but it can also prevent tooth decay. Ask your dentist about tooth whitening pastes and mouthwashes as they can help prevent professional tooth bleaching touch ups. Check on the American Dental Association website where you will find a list of teeth whitening products that are safe for your teeth and gums.
If you have noticed some yellowing, but are not scheduled to see your dentist for the next few months ask your dentist about in home whitening products that will give you results in-between professional tooth whitening touch ups. You can also whiten your teeth the natural way using products that you would find in your pantry or fridge.
Believe it or not, if you rub strawberries and other fruits on your teeth you can whiten your teeth naturally. Just be sure to brush with toothpaste immediately after to remove the acids and sugars. Make a paste out of lemons and salt. Use like toothpaste and apply to your toothbrush for a couple of days. Don’t forget to brush after, as lemons are highly acidic and can eat the enamel on your teeth.
Eat crunchy vegetables. Enjoying celery, broccoli, cucumbers, and carrots can also help keep your teeth bright as crunchy veggies and fruits are natural teeth whiteners, and because of the crunch, will get your saliva going. Apples contain malic acid, which is found in over the counter and professional tooth whitening products. The malic acid dissolves the stains on your teeth keeping the dentist, and the doctor away.
Brushing with baking soda work wonders on tooth stains. In fact, baking soda was used before toothpaste was even invented. Make a paste with a pinch of salt, baking soda, and water. Brush as you normally would and be sure to rinse. Your dentist recommends that this method only be used a couple of times a week as baking soda is very abrasive. You could also add some lemon juice to the paste.
Hydrogen Peroxide is the most powerful bleaching agent in the world. You may use it to disinfect or cleanse a wound, but H202 can also be used as an oxidizer and toothpaste. Hydrogen Peroxide is an active ingredient in mouthwashes and toothpastes. Make a safe solution using equal parts with water and you can use it like a mouthwash. Declared safe by the American Dental Association, H202 is a great way to whiten your teeth at home.
If you would like more information regarding teeth whitening, schedule an appointment with your dentist today.
Dr. Michael Layton (DDS) is the dentist for Peace Arch Dental, a dental office in the South Surrey/White Rock, B.C. area. He has been in the dental industry for the last decade and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington. He takes pride in providing positive and caring dental solutions for people of every walk of life. You can follow him on Google+.