Teeth Whitening: What Works and What Doesn’t

Teeth Whitening: What Works and What Doesn’t

Oct 12, 2018

There is no shortage of products promising to whiten your teeth and produce a beautiful, dazzling smile. Which of these products actually deliver though? Is a professional treatment more effective? What effect does whitening have on your teeth? Here are some answers to these popular questions about teeth whitening.

Why do teeth turn yellow?

There are several reasons why teeth turn yellow. A major factor is food and drink. Coffee, tea, and wine are particularly staining. Personal habits such as smoking or chewing tobacco can also show up in the teeth. Besides these outer factors, however, teeth simply naturally appear more yellow over time. Underneath the protective outer layer of enamel on the teeth is a layer called dentin, which is yellow in appearance. As the enamel gradually wears away, the yellowish layer is more easily visible, giving the teeth a yellower appearance.

Should I use whitening toothpaste?

Very few dentists would recommend the use of whitening toothpastes. One reason is that they are often very abrasive to the teeth, as they work by scrubbing away enamel and dentin. They are also often fairly ineffective. Even toothpastes that are not abrasive but work by chemically bleaching the teeth are not as effective as they promise to be because they are not left on the teeth for long enough to do anything.

Should I use other methods of whitening?

Whitening strips can produce results as they use chemicals such as carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide to bleach the teeth. However, they come with side effects like tooth sensitivity and can cause mouth sores. A better alternative is to use custom whitening trays provided by your dentist. This method is effective and protects the gums as it comes in a tray that only makes contact with the teeth. It is strongly advised NOT to try to use hydrogen peroxide at home to whiten teeth. When hydrogen peroxide comes into contact with the tissues, it could cause free radical reactions. If using a whitening gel, do not use one that has a higher potency because you think it will work better; it will be healthier for the teeth to use a low potency whitening gel over several weeks.

Overall, the best way to enjoy a whiter smile is to take consistent preventive care of the teeth. Brush gently twice a day, for two minutes each time, and floss daily to keep the teeth clean and white.

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