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Everyone wants a whiter, brighter smile, right? As a dental hygienist, this is probably one of the most, if not the most common question I get from my patients. There are various ways to do this with various degrees of success. In this blog post, I’ll talk about different ways to achieve whiter teeth, as well as ways to maintain it!
Things to Keep In Mind
Before we go into the different methods of whitening your teeth, there are some exceptions you should know about. Your teeth aren’t the same as your mother’s, nor is it the same as your next door neighbor’s. Just because some people had success with a method doesn’t mean it will work for you. Also, not all kinds of teeth will whiten, and some teeth may whiten but not as much, so beware! For example,
- You won’t be able to change the color of your fake teeth. This includes full or partial dentures, any crowns/caps, veneers, bridges (which are all essentially crowns)
- Teeth that have had history of trauma (like being hit in the face with a baseball bat or falling on your face) may not whiten as effectively as the rest, or may not even whiten at all
- Thin enamel may not bleach as well as thicker enamel
Possible side effect: Teeth sensitivity. This is a common side effect but a stated previously, everyone is different. Not all will exhibit this side effect and it varies depending on which treatment(s) you choose. If you have a history of teeth sensitivity, you should take this into consideration when looking into whitening procedures!
Ways to Brighten Those Teeth
Whitening Toothpastes & Mouthwash
This is probably the least intense treatment or thing that you could do for your teeth. This has the least “potency” – because of this, it can only brighten your teeth a few shades up. In other words, this is the least effective option if you want white teeth. At the same time, unless your teeth aren’t that dark or heavily stained, you won’t really notice much changes.
Personally, I’ve used Colgate Optic White toothpaste and mouthwash, as well as Tom’s of Maine Luminous White toothpaste and both of these brands did a good job of making my teeth a little brighter. My teeth aren’t that dark to begin with but I did notice it went up maybe a shade lighter.
This is another option you could go for besides a professional in-office treatment. This is more potent than whitening toothpaste and mouthwash, but not as strong as the professional procedures. It usually comes with enough strips to last you for a week; some will include more. However, brands like Crest are making more and more effective over-the-counter whitening strips. If you google Crest whitening strips, you’ll see a bunch of different names like Crest White Strips HD White, Crest White Strips Professional, etc. Some of these actually carry quite a hefty price tag (ranging from $20 up to 50 a box), but they are nowhere near what you’d pay for an in-office visit.
I’ve actually had two patients in my chair who used white strips to achieve their pearly whites, so I can definitely say that it can work as well as getting your teeth professionally bleached. Keep in mind, though, that both of them had been using the strips consistently for quite some time, so if you want instant gratification, this is not the best way.
Take-home bleach trays or pens
you might find this OTC, but you can also purchase this from your dental office and usually it is cheaper than getting an in-office procedure (basically, everything is cheaper than an in-office procedure). You are usually given a tray that was molded and created specifically for your teeth and some gel syringes filled with whitening solution. Some of these trays will come with a light / UV system. You would place a small drop on the front surface of each tooth on the tray and place it in your mouth for however many minutes directed.
Beware of placing too much solution on the trays or keeping it for too long! Overfilling can cause excess solution to spill over and get on your gums and cause a burning sensation. Keeping it on for too long can cause some slight sensitivity. The same steps follow for the bleaching pens.
In-Office Professional Treatment
This is the best go-to option because you can see immediate improvements / changes after the appointment is over, but this is the most expensive treatment and is also the one that gives the most side effects because it’s so potent. You usually get a liquid barrier placed over your gums to protect it from the bleaching material and then the bleaching material is spread on your teeth. You get an apparatus to keep your mouth pen and lips from touching the bleach, of course. For the next hour, a big UV light is usually placed in front of your teeth and you just sit there until it’s over.
The prices will vary by location but to give you an example of how much it costs, in my area of the United States, it costs $500 for an in-office treatment.
Tips to keep your teeth white
Floss, Brush, and Rinse
Brushing is, without a doubt, very important in keeping your teeth clean and white. Flossing can really help with removing debris and stains from between your teeth before they calcify and harden. Read other reasons why it’s important to floss in my other blog post. Rinsing can also dislodge more stains and debris!
Watch What You Drink
Popular beverages like tea, coffee, and red wine are commonly known to stain your teeth. Drinking it after getting your teeth bleached won’t immediately turn it back to what it was before, but overtime, it can potentially darken it a shade or two. Even drinks like cranberry or grape juice can possibly stain your teeth.
Don’t Smoke or Chew Tobacco
Smoking and chewing tobacco will easily stain those pearly whites. What’s worse about these kinds of stains is that it can be harder to remove than regular tea or coffee stains.
Get Routine Dental Cleanings and Checkups
Getting your teeth professionally cleaned will help prevent too much buildup or the tartar and stains and help keep your teeth white longer!
Got any other questions you’d like to ask about whitening? Drop them below!
Until next time! ♡