When it comes to teeth is it really the whiter the better? How white is too white? In every magazine, on every TV screen we see models and celebrities with blinding white teeth. Is it photoshop, are they veneers, or is it excessive whitening products? So, after talking to my dentist and hygienist, I started researching, and I found some important info to share with you. It has certainly helped me to understand teeth whitening and caring for my teeth in general.
Some important steps to having beautiful, healthy teeth
1. Brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. Find a brush that fits your mouth, not one that is too big. Soft bristled brushes are the most recommended by dentists. Scrubbing too hard with a stiff brush will wear off your enamel over time and will not make your teeth any whiter. As we age our enamel wears away which allows the yellowish dentin underneath to show through. Once the enamel has been eroded too much, the only option for white teeth is veneers or crowns, so protecting your enamel is very important.
2. Have your teeth cleaned once every six months. Prevention is one of the keys to healthy teeth. A dental cleaning and exam is a lot cheaper than a root canal or a crown.
3. Cut down on sugary food or sodas and brush or at least rinse mouth after consuming them.
4. Don’t use your teeth as tools. Trying to open things with your teeth and even biting your nails is damaging to your teeth.
There are so many things that can stain your teeth, from smoking to foods and drinks such as wine, berries, coffee, tea, and sodas. Even light colored acidic foods like orange juice or white wine can lead to stains by eroding enamel. A few tips you can use are:
Rinse your mouth after eating or drinking.
Use a straw to sip your favorite drinks.
Chew a piece of sugarless gum after eating
Visit your dentist to make sure your teeth are healthy before starting any tooth whitening procedure. Chemicals from teeth whitening products can seep into unfilled cavities or a cracked tooth and cause internal damage. Be sure to follow the directions on whatever method of whitener you are using. Over bleaching can cause the following problems:
.1. Tooth sensitivity. This is a big one if you have ever had it. Sharp pains and aches that can last for hours or days. Your dentist can recommend products to help with this if your teeth are sensitive.
2. Gum irritation. Bleaching agents are irritating to the gums so you want to limit their contact with your gums.
3. Blueish, chalky look, or white spots on teeth
The are basically 3 methods of bleaching:
1. Over the counter products such as white strips, paint on whitening products, and trays you can mold yourself. These use mostly hydrogen or carbamide peroxide at a low percent. Some work better than others.This method takes the longest to see results and is the most over abused, since they are readily available. Be sure to follow all instructions carefully and do not use longer than recommended time. Whitening toothpastes are the least effective of OTC methods, you would be better off using the strips or trays.
2. Custom made bleaching tray from your dentist. This is a great option since it fits your teeth perfectly so you will have minimal contact with your gums. Also you are being monitored by you dentist should problems arise. This is usually a week long treatment and can have dramatic results. (Many dentists offer free teeth whitening to attract new patients so check around)
3. Laser or light-activated lightening. ( Zoom, BriteSmile etc.) This is an in-office treatment that takes about an hour. It uses a higher percentage of hydrogen peroxide which is combined with light/laser which activates the gel. This method gets big results fast, but can cause the most sensitivity that can last for a few days. For some with sensitive teeth the pain can last much longer, even months. Definitely tell your dentist if you teeth are sensitive.
So how often should your whiten? The general consensus seems to be once every six months to a year, for treatments from your dentist. For over the counter treatments, no more than two weeks at one time, twice a year.
Act Total Care is the #1 mouthwash recommended by dentists. Helps prevent cavities, fights plaque, and kills bad breath germs.
Help protect your enamel with Sensodyne Pro Enamel toothpastes. Since whitening toothpastes are not the most effective way to whiten teeth, you are better off protecting your enamel.
Tom’s of Maine is another highly rated toothpaste.
Oral B toothbrushes are the most recommended by dentists. Be sure to select a soft bristle. Store your toothbrush upright in a rack or cup where it can dry out. Replace your toothbrush about every 3 to 4 months and throw away any toothbrush that you or anyone in your home used while they were sick.
Phillips Sonicare rechargeable electric toothbrush. You can get excellent results with a regular toothbrush if you brush for 2 minutes each time you brush your teeth, however a electric toothbrush can help you to brush longer. It’s so easy. It beeps when it is time to switch to another side of your mouth, and shuts off when your time is up. Sonicare makes a good product which makes this a good investment.
Chewing gum that contains Xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that may help prevent cavities. It is used in many sugar-free gums, although many do not contain enough Xylitol to be a benefit. Look for brands that contain a gram or so per piece of gum.
Crest 3D White Strips are the highest rated of all the over the counter whiteners and are very popular. Be sure too follow the directions and not to over use them, no more than 2 weeks at a time, twice a year.
(Top pic one of my favs; Adriana Lima by Ellen Von Unwerth)