According to different university studies, having whiter teeth make you look younger (since teeth tend to yellow as you age), sexier (people are attracted to a white smile) and wealthier (one study found women earning more when they had whiter teeth).
Whitening teeth involves a form of peroxide that can come in different strengths, usually lower levels in over the counter products and higher strengths at the dental office. It can be applied as a strip, a gel or liquid. The outer layer of your teeth, enamel, can stain easily and the underlying layer is very porous and make of tiny tubules of dentin that can suck up stain like a straw. Any food or beverage that would stain a white sheet will stain your teeth. The peroxide foams into the dentin and washes out the stain.
If you are considering whitening, it really makes sense to consult with your dentist first. People with sensitive teeth or gums are not candidates for this procedure until the sensitivity is brought under control. Attempting to whiten sensitive teeth even with over the counter methods can cause severe pain and damage the nerves of the teeth and the gums. Also, teeth that already have crowns, bonding or veneers are not going to get any whiter. Finally, if you have teeth that are stained due to tetracycline, you need to see a dentist especially trained in dealing with this situation, such as my office.
When you go to your dentist, there are usually two options for treatment. We can make a set of take home custom trays that you wear with gel for one hour a day for 3-4 days. The other option is the in office whitening, where you come in and read or nap for about 90 minutes while we apply a much stronger gel to your teeth and use Ozone gas to activate the gel. The Ozone gas increases the ability of gel to whiten your teeth, unlike bleaching lights which have been shown to have no effect on whitening.
How long does whitening last? It all depends on what you eat and drink. People who enjoy red wine and other colorful food may find that in 4-6 months, their teeth have darkened a bit. In my office, you can have a set of take home custom trays made to do 1-2 hour touch up whitening once to twice a year, or as needed.
What can you try at home? There are some people with slightly yellow teeth that respond well to over the counter products. Our favorites are Crest White Strips and The Rembrandt 2 hour whitening system. Other products such as whitening toothpastes and rinses may help as well. Another option is to dip a wet toothbrush in baking soda, but not more than once a week, since it is abrasive.
Another home remedy is this all natural recipe:
2 Tbsp baking soda
1 Tbsp dried finely ground sage
1/2 Tbsp sea salt
15-20 drops peppermint essential oil
A sprinkle of Xylitol for sweetness
Place in a small resealable container. After brushing with your regular toothpaste, brush with this for 1 minute, then rinse.
Finally, you should be aware that certain foods help clean your teeth. Celery, carrots and apples have a lot of cellulose which scrubs stain right off the teeth. Greens, such as broccoli, spinach and lettuce help form a film over the teeth so that food pigments can’t stain them.
Your teeth can have a base shade of white, yellow, grey or brown. How to whiten each shade to a lovely shade of white requires experience and knowledge of all the different whitening techniques available. While there are many pop up whitening salons that just offer whitening and cleanings, I do not suggest you seek treatment there. They are not whitening specialists and could damage your teeth. Instead, see your trusted dentist for recommendations and advice.
FREE consultation and exam valued at $325 with mention of Natural Awakenings! So if you or someone you know might consider having this very positive experience, please call Dr. Silver’s office at 212-924-6890.