Should I Get My Teeth Whitened?
- Posted on: May 16 2019
Should I Get My Teeth Whitened?
Why are my teeth yellow or stained?
Don’t panic! Teeth will naturally yellow and stain over time when they are being used to eat and drink colorful foods and drinks. If a little staining doesn’t bother you, then you won’t have to worry about any teeth whitening treatments as long as your teeth are clean and healthy! However, many people may feel self-conscious of their smiles when they notice their teeth aren’t as white as they used to be. The best way to understand how to treat this issue is by understanding what causes it! Here are the most common reasons your teeth may be discolored:
- Diet: A healthy diet should be comprised of a wide variety of foods of all different shapes and colors. Unfortunately, while consuming highly pigmented foods and drinks is great for your body on the inside, it may not be so great for your teeth on the outside! Brightly colored products, like beets or coffee, can penetrate the porous surface of your teeth and make them less white.
- Tobacco products: If you use any type of tobacco or nicotine products orally, such as cigarettes, vapes, hookah, chewing tobacco, you may be at risk of teeth staining and receding gums. Nicotine, a common ingredient in these products, turns yellow when it is exposed to oxygen. The chemicals in tobacco products can also reduce saliva production and blood flow to the gums, making it easier for bacteria to attack the teeth, leading to decay and discoloration.
- Poor dental hygiene: Teeth are more prone to staining when they aren’t cleaned properly and/or regularly. Failure to brush, floss, and visit the dentist also allows plaque to build up and harden, creating unsightly yellow or brown tartar.
- Genetics: Some people are born with teeth that may seem more yellow than others.
- Age: Over the years, the outer layer of your teeth gradually wear away with constant use. When this happens, the naturally yellow dentin on the inside may show through your enamel, making your teeth seem yellow.
- Medication: Certain drugs or medical treatments can cause the teeth to become discolored from the inside. For example, chemotherapy can affect the color of the teeth. One of the side effects of minocycline and tetracycline, both anti-inflammatory antibiotics, is staining the teeth intrinsically by binding itself to structures within the teeth.
- Fluorosis: Fluoride is the best way to protect and strengthen teeth from cavities, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. When young children ingest too much fluoride, they may develop fluorosis, a condition that occurs when white or brown spots appear on the teeth as a result of too much fluoride.
What is teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure that lightens the color of the teeth by removing stains. There are many teeth whitening methods available, but the most popular ones involve the use of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to lift old particles out from under the porous surface of the teeth. These chemicals work by passing through the surface of the teeth and breaking down complex molecules that may be stuck beneath the enamel. Other methods, like laser teeth whitening, oil pulling, whitening strips, etc. strive to achieve the same results. Teeth whitening is extremely common and it can make a huge difference in your smile!
Which method of teeth whitening is best?
The best method of teeth whitening is very personal and depends on many factors. What works for one person may not for another. Since there are countless teeth whitening methods, choosing just one can be difficult. We recommend doing some research and talking to your dentist for an evaluation before you jump into anything. Here are a few considerations to take into account when you are deciding which teeth whitening method you wish to choose:
- Time: How soon do you want to see results? If you have a special event coming up tomorrow, the best course of action may be a professional whitening treatment with your doctor. This is the fastest method of getting your teeth whitened because your doctor can administer a higher dosage of hydrogen peroxide with more advanced tools than you can purchase at the drugstore. On the other hand, if you’re not in a rush to see results, you’ll have a lot more options available.
- Sensitivity: If you have a history of tooth decay or sensitive gums, there are gentler treatments available than hydrogen peroxide. Using too many chemicals on the teeth too frequently can weaken the enamel. There are plenty of natural, holistic ways to keep your teeth white, such as regularly using activated charcoal, oil pulling, and fluoride to strengthen and clean the teeth.
- Cost: A professional teeth whitening treatment with the dentist is going to provide the most dramatic results and be your most efficient option (1-2 hours), but it’s going to cost more than a drugstore product you can get off the shelf. If you’re a little more budget conscious, consider getting a whitening toothpaste, whitening strips, or DIY gel treatment. These can be extremely effective (when used correctly) and they’re pretty inexpensive.
Are there any risks associated with teeth whitening?
Most teeth whitening treatments are safe as long as you follow the directions properly. Because dentists are educated and trained in dental safety and treatment, getting your teeth professionally whitened is basically guaranteed to be safe procedure. It’s important to note, however, that bleaching your teeth too often can lead hypersensitivity and the loss of enamel. This can have the opposite effect of brightening your smile. When too much enamel is lost, the naturally yellow dentin can show through, making your smile look yellow.
How do I prevent future staining?
Once you’ve had your teeth whitened, you want to preserve your pearly whites for as long as possible, right? Prevention is the easiest, most effective way to achieve a bright smile. Luckily, maintaining the appearance of your teeth actually doesn’t require the much effort. Besides regular oral hygiene, you just have to be a little more aware of what you consume and how you consume it:
- Drink through a straw: Coffee, tea, and wine contain tannins, which are natural antioxidants that contribute to the drinks’ flavor and color. Unfortunately, they will definitely stain your teeth if you’re not careful. We recommend drinking your beverages through a straw if you can to avoid contact between the tannins and your teeth!
- Rinse with water: If you can’t avoid eating deeply pigmented ingredients (turmeric, berries, balsamic vinegar), try to rinse your mouth with water after consumption. The sooner you get them out of your mouth, the better chance you have of avoiding staining.
- Decrease sugar intake: Sugar causes cavities and tooth decay. No matter how many teeth whitening treatments you get, your dentist can only do so much to cover up decay and cavities. Not only is sugar bad for your smile, it can ruin the integrity of your teeth, leading to more serious health problems such as gum disease and rotten teeth.
- Eat smart: Certain foods can naturally clean your teeth! Leafy greens and fresh produce, like kale and apples, have a fibrous texture that can scrub your teeth when you eat them. Incorporating foods that are high in calcium can also strengthen your enamel, making it seem brighter than before!
- Chew gum: The act of chewing gum stimulates your mouth to produce more saliva. This will make the mouth a more hostile environment for bacteria and flush unwanted food residue and sugar particles away. Just make sure to choose a sugar-free gum!
As nice as it is to have shiny, white teeth, it’s more important to have strong, healthy teeth. Never compromise a healthy, colorful diet just to have avoid teeth-staining foods. If there’s anything you can cut out, it’s sugar and food coloring. It’s also imperative to have good dental habits, regardless of what shade your teeth are. Remember to brush regularly and floss daily. Patients should also visit the dentist at least every 6 months for a checkup.
If you’re interested in getting your teeth whitened, give us a call at Dental Studio of Pasadena. Our dentists have provided countless safe and effective professional teeth whitening treatments and we’re always happy to help our patients learn more about their options to improve their smile.
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