Daily brushing and flossing keep teeth clean and free of decay – but if they’ve lost their sparkle or look yellow, teeth whitening can help brighten your smile. Since several teeth whitening options are available, iHeart Dental wants to help you choose the best way to restore your white smile.
What is Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening involves bleaching your teeth to make them lighter by several shades. The two main products used for teeth whitening are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. These bleaches break stains into smaller pieces, making the stainless concentrated and turning your teeth brilliant white. To whiten your teeth effectively, you’ll need to choose a whitening method that addresses the type of staining you have – intrinsic stains are those inside your tooth enamel, while extrinsic stains are on the outside of your tooth.
What are the Benefits of a Whiter Smile?
There are several benefits of a whiter smile:
- Increased confidence: Your smile is one of the first things that people notice when they meet you, and by having a whiter smile, your self-confidence will skyrocket. Whether at work, on a date, giving a presentation, or just walking down the street, a smile with bright, sparkly teeth is hard to miss! Whiter teeth are also an indication to others that you take care of yourself and care about your appearance.
- Improved oral health: It’s undeniable that teeth whitening makes you look and feel better, but in addition to its cosmetic dentistry benefits, a white smile also improves your oral health. Investing in teeth whitening will likely motivate you to take the best care of your smile, including brushing and flossing regularly.
Professional Teeth Whitening
Professional teeth whitening is often an efficient, safe, and effective choice for brightening your smile. There are two types of professional teeth whitening:
- In-office bleaching: There are two types of in-office whitening treatments: a high-concentration hydrogen peroxide gel, which is applied by a syringe, and a hydrogen peroxide combined with a high-intensity light, like LED, UV, or halogen.
- At-home bleaching with custom trays: This enables you to apply a whitening agent to your teeth by yourself. It consists of a customized tray designed to fit closely around teeth like clear aligners or retainers. However, these trays contain extra room for inserting the bleaching solution and are designed to allow the product to reach every part of the tooth without leaking onto the surrounding gums.
Over-the-Counter Whitening Products
Unlike in-office teeth whitening, over-the-counter whitening products contain a lower concentration of the bleaching agent. So, the results are generally slower – it can take a few weeks or months to reach the desired level of whitening, and the results last only 1-2 weeks. These are some of the most popular over-the-counter whitening products:
- Whitening toothpaste: Whitening toothpaste is an excellent solution for removing any surface stains accumulated throughout the day. It uses an abrasive ingredient to remove surface-level stains mechanically, and when used properly and as directed by the manufacturer’s instructions, using a whitening toothpaste is safe and effective.
- Whitening strips: Applied directly to the teeth with a brush or a thin strip, these peroxide-based tooth bleaching products usually must be applied once or twice a day for 10 to 14 days. Although they’re easy to use and accessible, they won’t work on dark stains.
- Whitening gels: With this tooth whitening option, a mouth guard-like tray is filled with a peroxide-based bleaching gel or paste and placed over the teeth for one to several hours a day for up to four weeks. However, the gels can cause teeth sensitivity and irritate the exposed gums.
- Whitening pens: These are thin, plastic tubes that house a whitening gel that can help improve your teeth’ color by removing leftover stains on each tooth’s surface. However, whitening pens can only whiten yellow stains but probably won’t whiten brown or grey ones.
What are Natural Remedies for Whitening Teeth?
There are plenty of natural remedies to choose from when it comes to whitening your teeth at home:
- Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide: Baking soda has natural whitening properties, which is why it’s a popular ingredient in commercial toothpaste. It’s a mild abrasive that can help scrub away surface stains on teeth. On the other hand, hydrogen peroxide is a natural bleaching agent that kills bacteria in your mouth. However, you must be careful when using baking soda or hydrogen peroxide, as strong concentrations or overuse can cause gum irritation and tooth sensitivity.
- Coconut oil pulling: Oil pulling is a traditional remedy originating in India, meant to remove bacteria, which can turn into plaque and cause your teeth to look yellow. The practice involves swishing coconut oil around your mouth for 20 minutes after brushing before spitting it out. The American Dental Association (ADA) considers oil-pulling unconventional dentistry, but some research suggests that washing the mouth with certain oils may help whiten teeth. However, there is limited research supporting this.
- Activated charcoal: Brushing with activated charcoal may also pull toxins from the mouth and remove stains from teeth. However, the abrasive texture will wear down tooth enamel causing more damage and sensitivity in the long run.
Lifestyle Changes for Maintaining White Teeth
Whether you use an over-the-counter tooth whitening system or have your teeth bleached by a dentist, you can help maintain the results by:
- Avoiding foods and drinks that stain teeth, such as black teas, coffee, red wine, berries, and other strongly colored foods
- Quitting smoking – removing stain-causing tobacco use from your routine can drastically improve your teeth’ appearance and overall dental health.
- Maintaining good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice daily for two minutes, flossing your teeth at least once daily, and visiting your dentist every six months for examination and cleaning.
Schedule Your Appointment Today!
Don’t let surface stains keep you from sporting a confident smile. Professional teeth whitening at iHeart Dental can lighten your smile by several shades in just one visit, and the procedure is completely painless—and more affordable than ever. If you want to improve your oral health and boost your self-confidence, contact us today to schedule an appointment at our Rincon, GA, practice!
Misty M. Seale, DMD
Dr. Misty M. Seale, DMD, a graduate of the Medical College of Georgia, specializes in general, preventative, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry and is the proud owner of iHeart Dental. Her practice emphasizes comfort, convenience, and personalized patient care, providing a cozy environment that feels like a home away from home. Outside of her passion for dentistry, Dr. Seale enjoys spending time with her family, camping, and Jeeping.
A Smile is the Key to Everybody’s Heart
We are dedicated to providing the highest-level dental care in a comfortable and relaxed setting while giving love, compassion, and respect for our patients and their dental needs leading to a healthier smile.