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Smiling Through...

Smiling Through Brighter, Whiter Teeth

Your smile is one of the first things most people notice about you. Unfortunately, as we age, teeth can become stained or grow darker and present a less than brilliant picture to the world. There are many reasons why your teeth may not be the bright white you’d like them to be.

Some medications can cause discoloration in your teeth. Coffee, tea and certain foods can stain your teeth, and smoking will also cause yellowing of teeth, as well as having other more serious side effects to your health. Also, as you age, the outer layer of your tooth enamel is worn away, revealing the darker tissue underneath.

The first step in your search for a brilliant smile is to discover what’s caused your teeth to become discolored. Your dentist can determine the cause of discoloration, whether tooth whitening can help, and which kind of whitening procedures will be most effective.

Not all whiteners work the same way, and not all whitening products will help your smile. For instance, in general, yellowish teeth bleach well, while brown or gray toned teeth usually do not. Also, tooth whitening products will not affect bondings or fillings, so porcelain veneers or bondings, so that all your teeth will be the same color, might be best for you. Once you’ve discovered the cause of your tooth discoloration, there are several options available, from over-the-counter products to the latest in dental applications using lasers.

All toothpastes help remove surface stains, and some whitening toothpastes contain polishing or chemical agents that provide additional stain removal. But whitening toothpastes only remove surface stains. Whitening toothpastes can lighten your teeth by about one shade, while your dentist can help you go three to eight shades lighter.

Similarly, over-the-counter whitening strips and gels cannot achieve the degree of whiteness that your dentist’s products can. The concentration of hydrogen peroxide isn’t as high in over-the-counter products. Worse, many kits have acetic or citric acid as the lightening agent, which can cause damage to your tooth enamel if overused or used improperly.

The safest, easiest and most sure way to whiten your teeth is to have your dentist prescribe the best method for you, whether it’s in-office bleaching, at-home bleaching, or whitening toothpastes. Most in-office or at-home professional methods use either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide as a bleaching agent. Impressions are taken of your teeth, from which custom trays are fabricated. You place whitening gel into the tray and ‘wear’ the tray on your teeth. The length of time can vary greatly, depending on the condition of your teeth and your body’s response to the bleaching agent.

Most people are satisfied with the sparkle they get from brushing twice a day, or if you cover your mouth when you smile or talk because you’re embarrassed about discolored teeth, talk to your dentist today. You could be smiling through brighter, whiter teeth tomorrow.

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