Summer is officially here! And most people will spend some time working on their tans. The only thing better than a nice, golden tan is a beautiful white smile to go with it.
What are the Different Ways to Whiten Your Smile?
There are two ways to make your teeth appear whiter. The first is by removing superficial or surface stains, and the second is by using a whitening chemical to change the color of the underlying tooth structure. We will refer to the first technique as “polishing” and the second as “whitening”.
Whiter Teeth through Polishing
Polishing away surface stains is an important part of a bright smile. Many people have habits of drinking dark liquids like coffee, tea, and red wine. These dark beverages all leave their mark on the teeth. Over time, consistent coffee drinking gives the teeth a yellow or even brown appearance.
The great news is that because these stains are limited to the exterior surface of the teeth, they are easy to remove.
There are two common ways to polish surface stains from the teeth.
- Have your teeth professionally cleaned! An important step of the teeth cleaning process is polishing the teeth. Our dental hygienists, Phyllis and Nancy, have perfected the polishing technique and will leave your teeth gleaming! Polishing during a dental cleaning creates two benefits for white teeth: 1) Removes surface stains, getting back to your natural enamel color, and 2) Creates a smooth, shiny finish, which is less likely to pick up stains.
- Use an ADA-approved whitening toothpaste! The mechanism of action for whitening toothpastes is the same as the polishing performed by your hygienist, just on a much smaller scale. Daily polishing away surface stains will help maintain your white smile.
Important tips for whitening toothpastes:
- Make sure your whitening toothpaste is ADA approved. This means that it has passed safety tests and will not damage your enamel. There are countless toothpastes available online, and they have not all been tested for safety. The American Dental Association’s seal of acceptance keeps you safe!
- Add an electric toothbrush to your oral hygiene routine! The power of an electric toothbrush plus whitening toothpaste will give you noticeably whiter teeth in under a week.
True Teeth Whitening
We stated earlier that polishing the teeth removes surface stains and returns the teeth back to their natural enamel color. So what if you do not like the natural color of your teeth?
That is where true teeth whitening comes in. Teeth whitening involves a chemical oxidation reaction between dark molecules just under the enamel of your teeth. Some people also refer to this as teeth “bleaching”.
Teeth whitening uses a type of peroxide chemical, which penetrates the surface of enamel, reaching darker colored molecules beneath. The peroxide reacts with these organic molecules and oxidizes them, breaking them down into smaller, lighter-colored particles.
There are also countless options of teeth whitening products. Again, choose one that is ADA-approved for safety.
Over-the-Counter vs. Prescription Whitening Products
There are a few similarities and differences between OTC and prescription whitening products. All whitening products contain a peroxide chemical, either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. In general, prescription whiteners will be higher strength than OTC products. This leads to better and faster results!
In-Office Teeth Whitening, like ZOOM!
In-office teeth whitening is the fastest way to whiten your teeth. You can achieve 3-4 shades lighter in about an hour in the dental chair. This is for the person who has a special event this weekend and need results fast. It can also be the best option for people who know that they will not go through the steps to whiten their teeth on their own and really need the dentist to do it for them.
It is important to remember that teeth whitening is not a permanent process. Over time, the result will gradually fade as you build up new stains. You can either repeat the process or use custom whitening trays and prescription strength whitening gel to maintain the results of in-office whitening.
The Very Best Form of Teeth Whitening
The very best form of teeth whitening, hands down, is prescription strength whitening gel in custom-made trays made by your dentist. The custom trays hold the higher strength gel in the best position for maximum effect.
The trays also last for many years, and you can purchase refills of whitening gel as needed. This makes it one of the most affordable ways to whiten your teeth over the long term.
At Designer Smiles, we make the whitening trays in our lab, so we are able to customize them to your specific needs. If you have gum recession, we can fit the trays in such a way that whitening gel does not reach sensitive exposed roots. We can also help you whiten specific teeth to “even out” the appearance of your smile.
Are You Interested in Whitening Your Teeth This Summer?
Call today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren. They will discuss your various whitening options and help you select the right one to meet your specific smile goals.