Do you dislike the color of your teeth? Perhaps so much so that you avoid having your picture taken or don’t smile very often in real life. If so, you should be aware that you do have options to change the color of your teeth (or even the shape of your teeth).
If you like the shape of your teeth and only feel that the color is off, you can try whitening your teeth (sometimes called bleaching your teeth). There are several ways to do this, but doing it through your dental office is your best bet because your dentist can buy different materials than just what is available on store shelves.
Some whitening trays come preloaded with material and are used in a similar fashion to the ones you can buy at the store. Once you’ve used the tray, you throw it out. The plus side is that it’s ready to go with little fuss, but the down side is you have to keep buying the entire product as you want to touch up—and they often come in a multiple pack with more or less than you may need.
Your dentist can also make custom whitening trays for you that fit to your teeth. With these, you load the material into the tray, wear it, then take it out and clean the used material out of it and store it so it is ready to use the next time. With care, these trays can last a long time, so the only thing you will have to buy is the material to put in the trays.
Your dentist can also do whitening in-office. This type of whitening usually shows the fastest results, but because we have to keep your lips and cheeks away from the whitening material, your teeth dry out during the procedure. As your saliva rewets your teeth, the teeth often appear darker. (Think of putting a pair of jeans in your washer. When you take them out to put them into the dryer they often look darker than they do when they are dry and ready to wear.) You may think your teeth look really great just after the procedure and feel like the color fades a bit within a day or so (and be disappointed), so some people opt to do the custom tray take home whitening after their in office whitening to try to keep the lighter tooth color.
For all whitening, we are constrained by the underlying color of your teeth—so if you have naturally dark gray teeth, you may never achieve the “paper white” color or be able to pass the “tissue test” one commercial uses to hawk its product, with tooth whitening alone.
If the whitening doesn’t get your teeth light enough for your taste or if you also don’t like the shape of your teeth, you can move into cosmetic dentistry to achieve the smile of your dreams. Cosmetic dentistry can be as simple as bonding material over the visible part of your tooth or as complex as having the dental lab make crowns, caps, or veneers for your teeth. The color and shape are more controllable with lab made options. Crowns go all the way around your tooth. Veneers are like a fake fingernail that is bonded to the side of your tooth that is visible when you smile. In many cases, your dentist can take impressions and have the dental lab wax up a cosmetic model that will give you an idea of what is possible for your smile. (There may be a charge for this.) Another option would be a removable cosmetic device such as a Snap On Smile that fits over your own teeth. The Snap On Smile product also allows you to eat with it in, while some other ones are for looks only and eating with them is not recommended.
So if you’re not happy with the color of your teeth, start exploring the options with your dentist. If you do not have a dentist, Dr. Robb would be happy to examine your mouth and discuss which options would work best for you. You can learn more about many of these dental procedures in the patient education section of Dr. Robb’s website at www.drjrobb.com
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist with an office at 1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053. Call 440-960-1940 to reserve your appointment!