“Doc can I have whiter teeth? I have a big event coming up and I need to look my best.” This is one sentence I hear almost everyday!
And why not? After all we humans are vain creatures and need to look our best at all times.
According to a national survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 96 per cent of adults believe an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to the opposite gender, and 74 per cent of adults feel an unattractive smile can hurt a person’s chances for career success. Having a clean, straight smile that makes you feel confident about yourself, enhances your social and career opportunities. This is why there is no shame in seeking help from somewhere like Aesthetic Family Dentistry in order to give you that boost of confidence.
So in essence if a brilliant smile with sparkling white teeth can boost your self-confidence I think it’s a must.
Know what’s best for you
Your teeth are made up of two layers:
- Inner softer dentin layer
- A harder outer enamel layer
As we drink liquids like coffee, tea, and red wine or intake cigarette smoke, foreign material collects and forms a layer on top of the outer enamel layer. This is known as pellicle film. This can be easily cleaned out by routine cleaning.
However once this film gets deeper into the tooth no amount of brushing can remove it. Although these stains are completely harmless, they can look unsightly and this is why plenty of my patients come in for tooth-whitening options. Visiting a cosmetic dentist can help get rid of those unwanted tooth stains and help your teeth sparkle all day, every day.
As age advances, the teeth start to age too and the dentin layer can get highly discoloured. Some of the causes for dentin discolouring are:
- Beverages like coffee, tea, colas, red wine
- Tobacco chewing
- Poor oral hygiene
- Injury to the tooth leading to discolouration
- Genetically darker or more yellow teeth
These are conditions that can yield brilliant tooth-whitening results and make you look like you had age reversal therapy. The results are fantastic and can leave you spellbound and smiling.
Are all discolourations ideal for tooth-whitening?
The simple answer is NO.
Detailed examination is important to decide whether tooth-whitening will work for you or not?
There are plenty of factors I consider before bleaching:
- Old crowns, veneers and fillings do not lighten with bleach.
- Any two healthy teeth can respond differently; and naturally occurring white spots and ridges may become more noticeable.
- Also severely discoloured teeth like those due to tetracycline staining or fluorosis may need more than just tooth-whitening for the million-dollar smile.
Make sure you understand the limitations of whitening your teeth to avoid disappointment.
Tooth-whitening uses bleaching agents usually in the form of hydrogen and carbamide peroxide and are normally used in different ways:
- In-clinic treatments: which is the quicker way of whitening it can be done in an hour.
I usually recommend this for patients who are always on the go and have no patience or time to whiten their teeth at home.
Zoom tooth-whitening is one of the most popular in office techniques and works beautifully.
Another technique is using veneers to get rid of discolouration. There are lots of different veneer types, such as these brand names, so the patient usually chooses what they think will be best. Veneers can be expensive so looking around for the best dentists with the most affordable cost of veneers is very important. Some dentists also use payment plans that make getting this sort of treatment even more accessible to people whose finances are a little tighter. Of course, veneers are more of a permanent solution, rather than paying for teeth whitening every three months, so it is well worth investigating.
At Home Tooth-Whitening:
This is quite popular with my younger patients. All it needs is a customised dental tray that seats perfectly on your teeth. A tooth- whitening gel has to be placed on the tray and worn to sleep at night. It takes about two weeks and is a superb option to whiten your teeth.
I wouldn’t recommend these at all.
These are products available over the counter and could be cheaper. The products used by dentists are extensively tested and have been proven to be both safe and reliable. Products available elsewhere are unlikely to have undergone such extensive testing and, will not work. These may actually damage your teeth, meaning you are left needing extensive, expensive restorative dental work.
These don’t work very well and aren’t really a great option by themselves.
Some other stuff that promises tooth-whitening are tooth-whitening pens and strips. But I wouldn’t really recommend these for the simple reason that they don’t work.
Quick tips to maintain your whitened teeth:
- For a minimum of 24 hours after teeth-whitening treatment avoid consuming coffee, tea, dark coloured soda, red wine, berries, candy, red sauces, beets, chocolate or any other foods that can stain your teeth. A good guideline is, if it stains a white shirt, it will stain your teeth.
- Rinse your mouth or brush your teeth each and every time you eat.
- Use toothpaste that has teeth-whitening properties. It helps maintain your teeth.
- If you are a heavy caffeine drinker (coffee, soda or tea) and simply cannot get rid of the habit, drink with a straw.
- If at all possible, avoid using lipstick as certain types of lipstick can stain your teeth and cause discolouration.
- Refrain from smoking. Smoking is a major cause of discolouration and continuing the habit quickly stains your whitened teeth.
Still contemplating tooth-whitening? Think about it. Its quick, it’s easy and can make you look great.
I sign off for now. Till next week.
Dr Shail Jaggi is a passionate dentist with specialisation in cosmetic dentistry and endodontics. She manages an Advanced Microscope Enhanced Practice – Dentalwiz dealing with all aspects of dentistry. Dr Jaggi is recipient of ‘Outstanding Dentist Of The Year -2015′
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