The first step toward getting that pearly white smile that everyone loves is to brush and floss at least twice a day. However, while that is the first step – and perhaps the most important one – it is often not enough. Many people have to take additional measures in order to whiten their teeth, and the older a person gets, the truer this becomes. And because we know how important it is for people to have that elusive white smile, we have outlined some of the steps you can take toward having it.
But first, very briefly, an understanding of what makes teeth appear discolored is central toward understand how to white them. The molecules enamel and dentin, which are contained in teeth, hold on to food and drink particles. The more of these particles they contain, the more “complex” enamel and dentin become. The more complex they become, the more light they reflect. And the more light they reflect, the more discolored they cause teeth to appear.
Read on to learn of some simple ways to whiten your teeth.
Use Toothpaste Containing Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda
A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information shows that in just six weeks of brushing twice a day with a toothpaste that contains hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, you can whiten your teeth by 62%. Part of the reason for this is that hydrogen peroxide breaks down complex molecules. And as these molecules in your teeth are broken down, they reflect less light, making your teeth appear less discolored.
The manner in which baking soda helps is a more clear cut (or, dare we say, less complex). Baking soda is an abrasive compound that helps remove surface stains from your teeth, thereby making them appear more white. Please note that commercial toothpastes that contain baking soda in fact contain very little of it. This is because too much baking soda is unsafe. For this reason, we advise against brushing your teeth using the baking soda in your home.
Avoid Coffee and Soda
This is a tough one for many people, but just as getting in great physical shape requires certain sacrifices, so it is with having white teeth. The dark pigments in coffee, cola, and dark teas can be absorbed by the molecules in your teeth, again making them more complex. And as we know, complex molecules reflect more light and cause discoloration. If the discoloration caused by such drinks is not addressed in time, it can become permanent.
Talk to Your Dentist About Treatment Options
Of course, there are also many dental procedures that can whiten your teeth. These procedures include:
- In-office bleaching – also known as chair side bleaching, the dentist will bleach your teeth while using a gel to protect your gums. Typically takes one visit.
- At-home bleaching – despite the name, this is something you need the dentist for. He or she will provide you a custom made whitening kit as well as instructions. This is a longer process that can take days or weeks.
- Over-the-counter products – while these directly require a dentist, they are potent solutions and should therefore be used with caution. Whether you are looking at strips or kits or some other product, check first with your dentist to make sure that it is right for you.
If you are considering taking the steps toward whitening your teeth, we highly recommend it. It has done wonders for the self-confidence of our patients. Talk to your dentist about your options today!