Your smile is an asset. “When someone has a big smile, it shows they’re willing to open up and expose a part of themselves,” says Pamela McClain, DDS, a past president of the American Academy of Periodontology. The difficulty is in keeping your smile looking white and bright.
Tooth whitening, sometimes referred to as bleaching, is probably the most common cosmetic dental procedure requested by dental patients today. If you’re thinking of talking with your dhealth cosmetic dentist about an in-office or at-home tooth whitening procedure, here are a few facts to know beforehand.
Reasons You May Need Tooth Whitening
Although we all start our lives with sparkling, white teeth, here are five reasons why tooth color may change.
- Stains. Long-time consumption of food and drink such as red wine, coffee, blueberries, and carrots, can cause stains.
- Tobacco. The nicotine in smoking or chewing tobacco leaves brownish deposits on teeth.
- Medications. Some medications, such as tetracycline, may cause a grey or brown ribbon effect on teeth, particularly in young children.
- Grinding. People who grind their teeth are apt to see more stains in the small cracks tooth grinding causes to teeth.
- Age. Over time, it’s natural for teeth to darken and accumulate stains. That’s why tooth whitening typically works best for younger dental patients. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get worthwhile results in older dental patients.
Another reason that teeth may appear to lose their vibrant color is due to thinning enamel. Enamel is the outer layer that helps to protect and insulate your teeth during daily use. What you eat and drink as well as genetics and medication have much to do with how your teeth wear. Unfortunately, your dhealth dentist cannot correct thinning enamel through tooth whitening.
Steps to Take to Maintain Tooth Whitening
It’s important to understand that tooth whitening will not make your teeth healthier or stronger. Additionally, it is not a permanent solution. Teeth may stain again if you continue to expose them to the substances that stained them previously. You’ll need to follow the same dedicated oral hygiene process – daily brushing and flossing – that you followed prior to the whitening procedure.
Moreover, your dhealth cosmetic dentist may recommend you:
- Stop smoking immediately
- Avoid eating certain foods that can cause stains or weaken your tooth enamel
- Sip dark-colored beverages through a straw, specifically aiming the straw at the back of your mouth and away from your teeth
- Rinse immediately after consuming stain-causing beverages or foods
- Continue using an at-home treatment, such as whitening toothpaste, to remove surface stains and yellowing
- Check with your dental professional to see if you need a touch up
Before you decide that tooth whitening is right for you and to ensure the best tooth whitening results possible, talk to a cosmetic dentist.