How to Whiten Your Teeth

how teeth whitening worksEveryone wants pearly whites. A mouth full of gleaming white teeth is so often perceived as a symbol of vitality and glamour. Of course, it is important to keep in mind that having white teeth isn’t a marker of physical health, and it certainly isn’t a sign of good dental health.

Unfortunately, only a select few of us are born with the kind of teeth you see on the red carpet (and even those teeth have probably had a touch up!). Teeth are like anything else; they age and deteriorate over time. As they do so, teeth tend to become discoloured and even yellow.

Why Am I Teeth Losing Their Shine?

There are a number of reasons why your teeth are a couple of shades darker than they were all those years ago:

  • Food: The worst culprits here are red wine, coffee, tea and soft drinks. The first three stain the teeth, and if you drink enough of them you’ll really start to notice a difference. Soft drinks eat away at the white, outer enamel of your teeth and expose the dentine, which is a more yellow colour.
  • Smoking: Smoking isn’t just bad for your body; it’s terrible for your teeth. The nicotine in cigarettes will stain your teeth yellow if you don’t give up the habit.
  • Trauma: Getting hit in the mouth or teeth is a sure fire way to lose that gleam. Trauma often results in the teeth getting a grey, black tinge to them. Unfortunately, this type of discolouration is a lot more difficult to alter.
  • Medication: Some antihistamines and antipsychotics can cause discolouration of the teeth.
  • Age: Age catches up with everyone, including your enamel. As the enamel wears away, the yellow dentine comes through and your teeth wont look as white as they did.

How Whitening Works

close up of teeth whitening before and afterThe process of whitening your teeth is very simple. All whiteners, whether they are from the chemist or the dentist, contain hydrogen peroxide. The peroxide breaks down the stains into smaller sections, making the stained areas more concentrated and allowing the white enamel to shine through.

How Do I Get My Teeth Whitened?

The first thing you should do is talk to your dentist. Unfortunately, teeth whitening doesn’t work for everyone. Before you decide to invest in getting your teeth whitened, you should ensure you have a clear picture of the results you can expect.

If your teeth have yellowed due to age and other forms of dentine exposure, then you can usually expect good results. If your teeth have brown stains due to coffee and tea, you will have to engage in a more comprehensive whitening treatment. If you have grey to black stains due to trauma, it will be very difficult to whiten your teeth. In the case of grey or black teeth, your dentist may recommend veneers or caps instead of whitening.

You should also keep in mind that whitening won’t work on fillings, veneers or caps.

Teeth Whitening Options

If your dentist feels that you are a good candidate for whitening, you have two options: either at-home or in the dentist chair.

At-home whitening products can be organised through your dentist. At-home whitening products utilise custom-made trays, which fit over the surface of your teeth that are filled with peroxide. The trays are then usually worn for regular short periods of time.

The in-chair tooth whitening option is, as the name suggests, performed in the dentists’ chair, usually in just one appointment. An ultraviolet light is shone across the surface of your teeth to activate the solution. Usually, the results are immediate. Although, for more serious cases of staining, your dentist may recommend that in-chair whitening is followed by at-home treatment.

So, if you want to have brighter, whiter teeth, then all you need to do is visit your dentist. While you may be able to buy cheaper, take-home options from the supermarket, you are unlikely to be able to replicate the effective results obtained from a visit to your dentist.