White teeth are associated with health and beauty, even though there’s nothing particularly unhealthy about teeth with a few stains on them. If you’ve been eyeing your smile and wondering if it’s starting to get dingy, you might be tempted to take the whitening process into your own hands. There are some reliable ways to lighten your smile at home, but amateur whitening attempts can also permanently damage your teeth. Find out why brushing longer or harder is a bad idea, and why it’s worth heading to the dentist for professional bleaching.
WHY DO MY TEETH GET STAINED?
For most people, staining occurs from the outside in. Residues from highly pigmented foods and drinks and cigarette smoke are deposited on the surface. Even the best brushing habits won’t remove all the residue, resulting in a slow yellowing. Teeth also turn yellow naturally as you age. Sometimes medication or illness cause the teeth to discolor from the inside, but this usually results in a translucent or gray tooth rather than a yellow one. It’s impossible to whiten your teeth at home if the discoloration is internal.
HOW LONG SHOULD I BRUSH MY TEETH TO MAKE THEM WHITER?
Adults and children alike need to brush twice a day for two full minutes each time. If you skip even 30 seconds each day, you’re leaving residue on the teeth that turns into stains. Don’t start brushing three or four minutes instead in the hopes that it’ll lead to whiter teeth. Excessive brushing causes gum recession and enamel destruction instead. Once your enamel is all scratched up, the porous part of the tooth is exposed. This leads to more intense staining that is harder to remove. Enamel doesn’t grow back once you damage it, so it’s better to live with yellow teeth than it is to risk the protective coating that prevents decay and cracking. Whitening toothpastes help if you’re patient enough to wait months for the smallest results. Skip abrasive products, such as baking soda formulations, to avoid further damage to the enamel. Hydrogen peroxide, diluted 50 percent with water, is another safe way to slowly reverse the yellowing effect at home. However, both of these effects make very little noticeable effect and only work on surface stains. If you’re not getting the results you want with home treatments, it’s better to visit the dentist rather than trying increasingly more drastic DIY solutions. You can end up with teeth so damaged that only covering them with porcelain veneers or composite caps will save them, two procedures that are far more expensive and painful than basic whitening.
WHY IS PROFESSIONAL TOOTH WHITENING SAFER?
The controlled environment of the dentist’s office is what makes professional whitening safer. The dentist knows exactly how much whitening cream to apply and how long to leave it on without damaging the teeth or the gums. These dentist-only whitening products are very strong, yet they’re surprisingly safe when used properly. You can get a bright white smile in just one or two visits instead of waiting months and years to see results with self-administered treatments. Of course, you’ll still need to make some changes to your daily routine to keep the whitened effect as long as possible. Continuing to drink red wine and coffee on a daily basis will cause your smile to yellow again shortly after you get out of the office. Looking for a skilled dentist to handle the whitening process for you so the results look natural instead of artificially bright? Biltmore Commons Dental is the perfect office for this goal because our dentists have years of experience in getting the perfect shade of pearl. Call us today to schedule your consultation so you can see how much better your smile will look after a few gentle and safe bleaching treatments.