A brighter whiter smile!
IN THE past, ancient Romans used human urine to get whiter teeth. Today, urine is no longer in use. There are now safer ways to get teeth whiter. As we get older, our teeth change colour. As part of the natural ageing process, they will no longer be as pearly white as in young children. In fact, they may appear yellow. Whitening your teeth may actually cause you to look much younger. Start by visiting your dentist if you would like to have your teeth whiter.
Your dentist may advise you on whether whiteners may be effective on your teeth. However, some discolourations may not be removed by whiteners; teeth that are yellowish may respond best versus teeth that are brown or bluish-grey. Teeth may appear stained for many reasons and that will influence what is used to get your teeth whiter.
Tooth-coloured filling materials and metal-filling materials do not respond to whitening agents. In this situation, your teeth may have to be covered with crowns or veneers. If your tooth was damaged by trauma – perhaps you fell or was hit in the mouth – it may become darkened. Your dentist may need to place a whitening agent inside your tooth, if this is the case.
You may choose to have your teeth whitened in the dental office. A protective shield will be placed over your gum; this may be a rubber shield or gel. This shield is very important to prevent damage to your gums and other soft tissues. A light may also be used during the process and you may need to attend for more than one visit. There is also an alternate way which allows you to take a custom-made tray home, with advice on how to use the whitening agent over a period, usually two weeks. This tray is very important as it will be specifically designed to fit your mouth and reduce possibility of the whitening agent damaging your soft tissues.
Having your teeth professionally cleaned may also prove helpful in removing food stains, tobacco stains and plaque bacteria. You may need to adjust your lifestyle if you really want to keep your teeth white. Habits like smoking, coffee or tea drinking will stain your teeth. Once you have cleaned your teeth, you may also use a ‘whitening’ toothpaste.
All toothpaste remove surface stains from teeth, however, those deemed ‘whitening’ toothpaste may have additional abrasive agents and chemicals. You may get good results, whiter teeth. However, your teeth can become sensitive when using this toothpaste.
Whitening your teeth using chemicals may have side effects. These include chemical burns to your soft tissues and sensitive teeth. The teeth may also appear ‘over white’ and then dark after a period of 30 days. The most common side effect is sensitive teeth. The sensitivity may be noticed during the whitening process or one to three days after completion. Your teeth may become sensitive to cold air when you speak and even when you drink cold or hot beverages. Once you experience any sensitivity – the use of the agent should be discontinued and your dentist informed.
Teeth whitening is not recommended for children under 16 years and pregnant and lactating women.
There is hope if you have become conscious of your teeth changing colour. You can boost your confidence by whitening your teeth. Give yourself a brighter, whiter smile!