What Are the Options for Teeth Whitening? Flossing and brushing are some of the daily routines to keep our smiles white, bright, and healthy. However, you might feel like your teeth are more yellow than they used to be or lacking some sparkle. If that’s the case, then you are not alone. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, when people were asked what they would love to change about their smiles, most responded with “whiter teeth.”
About 90 percent of dental patients request teeth whitening, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. If you are considering teeth whitening, it is of paramount importance that you get the facts right. This article highlights everything there is to know about the process.
Why Do Teeth Change Color?
It is not uncommon for teeth to turn color from white to somewhat yellow over time. Here are some of the reasons.
There are two chemicals in tobacco that cause teeth stains: Nicotine and tar. Tar is normally dark in color, while nicotine occurs as a colorless compound but changes color after mixing with oxygen. With sufficient oxidation, it turns yellow, staining the surface of your teeth.
Foods and Drinks
Tea, red wine, and coffee are major teeth staining culprits. What’s the common feature of these drinks? They all have chromogens, intense color pigments, which can cause discoloring when they attach to the enamel of your teeth.
There is a softer layer called dentin below the enamel, the outer shell. As you age, the white hard outer shell gets thinner due to the routine brushing, allowing the yellow dentin layer to show through.
If you have ever been injured in the mouth, your teeth might turn yellow as a reaction to the injury. Your teeth react to injuries by laying down more of the dentin layer, which is a yellowish layer underneath the enamel.
Some antihistamines, high blood pressure, and antipsychotic medications can cause teeth darkening as a side effect. Children who might have been exposed to antibiotics such as doxycycline and tetracycline during their teeth formation phase may experience teeth discoloration later in life. Neck radiation, head radiation, and chemotherapy can also result in dark teeth.
Whitening of discolored teeth is a straightforward process. All artificial tooth whitening products out there have at least one of the following bleaching agents:
1. Carbamide peroxide
2. Hydrogen peroxide
The stains are broken into tiny pieces by the bleaching agent, making the color less concentrated and leaving your teeth looking brighter.
You might be wondering whether whitening is effective on all teeth. Well, not really. This is why it is advisable that you consult with your dentist before taking to a whitening procedure. Whitening products may not fix every type of discoloration.
For instance, yellow teeth may respond quite effectively to whiteners, brown ones may not respond that well, and gray teeth do not respond to bleaching products at all. It is also important to note that whitening does not work on veneers, fillings, crowns, and caps. If your teeth discoloration is a result of tooth injury or medications, it cannot be fixed with whitening products.
Teeth Whitening Options
You should first consult with your dentist before commencing. If your dentist agrees to it, then there are a number of options to brighten your smile. Among them being:
Stain Removal Toothpaste
The majority of the toothpastes on store shelves help with the removal of stains on our teeth surfaces. The toothpastes have mild abrasives for scrubbing the teeth. If this is the option you want to go with, you should buy stain removal toothpaste that has been approved by the ADA. You can tell whether the paste is ADA approved by looking for the ADA seal on the package.
Whitening toothpastes contain extra polishing agents that remove stains effectively and safely without hurting your teeth. Unlike bleaching agents, whitening toothpastes do not change the color of your teeth since they are only capable of removing the stains.
This is a whitening procedure known as chairside bleaching. For effective whitening, you will need just one office visit. During this visit, the dentist installs a rubber shield or applies protective gel on your gums before applying the bleach to the teeth.
Over-the-Counter Bleaching Products
There are numerous options in your grocery stores or online such as strips and toothpastes, which whiten your teeth through the bleaching process. However, the concentration of the bleaching agents in these products is lower compared to what your dentist would have used.
If you are considering using an over-the-counter whitening product, discuss the available options with a dentist and only buy one with the ADA approval seal. ADA approved solutions have been tested and proved as effective and safe for teeth whitening.
It is not uncommon for the dentist to give you a custom-made solution for at-home whitening. In such an instance, the dentist will instruct you on how to use the bleach and for how long. This option is ideal for those people who want to do the whitening themselves, and at the comfort of their homes, but with the guidance of a qualified dentist. The process can take just a few days or several weeks, depending on the severity of the discoloration.
Natural Teeth Whitening Solutions
Most teeth whitening products in the market use bleaching chemical, which concerns most patients. However, if you desire to make your teeth whiter without relying on any chemical, here are some of the natural options at your disposal.
Brushing with Baking Soda
Due to its natural whitening feature, baking soda is a popular toothpaste ingredient. It is a mild abrasive that scrubs away the strains on your teeth surface. Baking soda will create an alkaline environment preventing bacteria growth.
However, your teeth will not whiten overnight, but you will notice the difference in their appearance over time. No scientific study has been done to prove that plain baking soda can whiten your teeth, but studies shown that toothpastes containing baking soda have a substantial whitening effect.
Use Hydrogen Peroxide
This is another natural bleach that can effectively kill bacteria in your mouth. For years, hydrogen peroxide has been used for wound disinfection due to its bacterial killing abilities. You will find that most teeth whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide as one of the ingredients, but in higher concentration than what you use as a natural remedy.
No scientific studies have been conducted to show the effects of cleaning the mouth with hydrogen peroxide, but there are many studies on toothpastes containing it. One study particularly reported that toothpaste with baking soda and one percent hydrogen peroxide resulted in comparatively whiter teeth.
A different study shows that using toothpastes made with hydrogen peroxide coupled with with baking soda twice a day resulted in 62 percent whiter teeth in just six weeks. However, there is uncertainty about the safety of peroxide.
While the diluted concentration of hydrogen peroxide appears safer, overuse and strong concentrations can result in tooth sensitivity and irritation of the gums. There are claims that high doses could cause cancer, but it’s yet to be scientifically proven.
You can use hydrogen as mouthwash prior to brushing your teeth. You should only use less than 3 percent of the solution to avert side effects. The hydrogen peroxide in a drugstore is about 3% concentrated, but you can dilute it to 1.5% by adding an equal amount of water to it.
Another way of using this peroxide is in combination with baking soda. Mix 1 spoon of baking soda with 2 of hydrogen peroxide to make a home-made toothpaste. Gently brush your teeth with the paste. You should only use this home-made paste just a few times in a week because overuse can lead to erosion of your enamel.
Eating Vegetables and Fruits
A vegetable and fruit-rich diet is good for both your teeth and body. While there might be no substitute for brushing your teeth, eating raw vegetables and fruits helps with rubbing the plaque from the teeth surface as you chew.
Pineapples and strawberries are some of the fruits popularly known for teeth whitening.
A strawberry-baking soda combination is one of the natural teeth whitening solutions. Proponents of this approach claim that the baking soda buffs away stains white the malic acid from the strawberries remove the teeth discoloration.
However, just like the other natural remedies, this method is not backed by scientific studies. While malic acid exfoliates your teeth, making them appear whiter, it can also penetrate these stains. Study shows that the baking soda and strawberries mixture has little impact on color change when compared to commercial teeth whiteners.
If you want to try out this method, limit its use to just a few times a week. Although the mixture has negligible effects on the enamel, overuse can cause damage.
There are claims that pineapples have the ability to whiten teeth. One study shows that toothpastes with bromelain, which is an enzyme found in pineapples, are more effective when it comes to the removal of stains compared to standard pastes. There is no scientific evidence that eating pineapples can produce similar effects.