The Holidays are right around the corner, and most of us want to present our prettiest smile when we see friends, relatives and co-workers at various holiday events. What’s the best way to do that? The answer to that depends on the result you want to achieve.
Our teeth have a natural color, but tooth color is also influenced by surface stains. Fillings or crowns can also affect the outcome, so if you’re thinking of whitening your teeth, it’s best to talk with your dentist first, even if you’ll be using an off-the-shelf product, to try to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Surface stains that discolor teeth are often the easiest to fix. If you already have stains, you might need a professional cleaning to remove them. Once your teeth are clean, make sure to brush with your favorite toothpaste twice a day. Power toothbrushes like Sonicare or Oral-B may remove surface stains better than manual toothbrushes. Whitening toothpastes often remove surface stains by being slightly more abrasive than regular versions. Whitening flosses may help with stains in between your teeth. Despite your best efforts, surface stains may reappear, so it is best to see your dentist or dental hygienist at least once every six (6) months. Your dentist or dental hygienist may also be able to help you identify what foods, drinks or habits are aiding in stain formation on your teeth and give you personalized tips for your specific situation.
What are some other habits you can develop to keep your smile looking bright?
- Rinse with water after drinking anything colorful (like red wine).
- If you know you’ll be drinking coffee, tea or red wine, consider applying a thin coat of vaseline to your teeth beforehand to help minimize surface stains.
- Crunchy raw fruits, such as apples or pears, are not only good for you, they mechanically remove surface stains from your teeth.
- And for women, wearing a blue-based pink lipstick color (such as berry or fuchsia), will make your teeth appear whiter.
But what if your problem isn’t stains on the surface of your teeth, but rather the color of your tooth itself? What can you do then?
Changing the internal color of the tooth involves whitening.
Products bought off the shelf are designed to lighten your teeth only a shade or two. For more dramatic results, you’ll need to buy products from your dentist or have in-office whitening. In-office whitening doesn’t necessarily produce better results, but the results are seen more quickly. Remember though that fillings, crowns, veneers and other dental work do not change color--so if you have these already, you may need to replace them once your teeth reach a shade you like. If you need to have these done, it’s best to plan to whiten before. Otherwise, you might end up in the same plight as one of my patients who thinks the whitening material isn’t working because she can’t get her grayish color based teeth to match the bright white color she chose for the veneers she already has on her front teeth. In truth, the shade of her teeth has lightened, but whitening won’t change her underlying shade from gray to white. It’s much easier for your dentist to match a shade to your teeth than for you to try to get your tooth color to match something your dentist has made. If you’re looking for a very dramatic color change, you might have to invest in veneers or crowns.
The most recent innovation in teeth whitening involves an ionic activator device. The whitening gel is placed into the device and is activated when you press the on button on the device. Because it doesn't involve the usual drying and isolation of the teeth, tooth sensitivity after whitening is less of a problem than with other systems.
You can learn more about tooth whitening in the Dear Doctor section of my website: Teeth Whitening. You can learn more about restorative options to change your tooth color there also, including these links: Cosmetic Tooth Bonding, Crowns & Bridgework, Porcelain Veneers, and Smile Makeover.
If you don’t have a dentist and are interested in personalized advice on keeping your smile at its whitest, you’re invited to contact my office to become a new patient by calling 440-960-1940 or by contacting us through my website at www.drjrobb.com. You can also interact with Dr. Robb on facebook at www.facebook.com/drjenniferrobb