How To Achieve The Perfect Smile
To achieve a beautiful white smile, the orthodontist uses teeth whitening because it lightens or removes surface stains and discolouration caused by exposure to tobacco or darkly pigmented foods and beverages, such as wine, coffee and tea.
There are numerous ways to whiten your teeth, and there’s no one right way. Your results will depend on your natural tooth colour, the type and degree of staining you have, and the type of whitening method you choose.
You should be able to match your current tooth colour to its corresponding shade based on a guide provided to you by your dentist or in over-the-counter whitening kits.
INTRODUCTION TO TEETH WHITENING
HOW IT WORKS
Whitening toothpastes work to remove surface stains from your teeth on an ongoing basis and at a low cost. They rely on mild abrasion and special chemical or polishing agents to do so.
Other over-the-counter whitening products, such as gels or strips, may contain peroxide and actually bleach or lighten the colour of your teeth over time. They also work at a relatively low cost.
The most dramatic results come from professional whitening, which can be done in your dentist’s office or at home. Professional teeth whitening involves bleaching to remove surface and intrinsic stains. If your teeth have been stained for many years, you may need to have your teeth professionally whitened first before using over-the-counter or other lower-cost teeth whitening methods for maintenance.
During in-office professional whitening, your dental professional will start by covering your gums with a protective gel. They will then apply a whitening agent to your teeth for 30–60 minutes and sometimes use a light to speed up the process.
When performed properly, and with clinically proven products, teeth whitening treatments are safe and effective. However, you may start to experience tooth sensitivity or gum irritation as you continue to whiten. You can reduce these symptoms by wearing your custom tray for shorter periods or brushing your teeth with toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. Be sure to consult your dental professional if you experience sensitivity.
WHO IT’S FOR
Teeth whitening is suitable for many people; however, teeth whitening will not lighten tooth-coloured crowns, bridges or fillings, and some brown or grey stains are difficult to remove, so it’s not the best option for everyone. Your dentist may recommend veneers or bonded restorations to help whiten your smile in some instances.
Teeth whitening treatments also are not recommended if you have cavities, gum disease or worn tooth enamel, as whitening agents can irritate sensitive gums and teeth. Your dentist is likely to discourage teeth whitening treatments if you’re pregnant, as well.
Your dental professional can advise whether teeth whitening is right for you and which methods you can consider based on the type and degree of staining you have. If you think that teeth whitening may be right for you, schedule an appointment with your dental professional first for a thorough examination, cleaning and discussion.
DAILY CARE CONSIDERATIONS
Teeth whitening is not a one-time solution. If you continue to expose your teeth to substances that stain, you may need to use teeth whitening treatments periodically. You may also want to consider using a straw to drink beverages that stain and avoid wearing orange- and brown-based shades of lipstick. Blue- and pink-based shades will make your teeth appear brighter.
Teeth that are undergoing whitening treatments are still susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease, so the following principles of daily oral care still apply:
Adults should brush their teeth, tongue and gums twice daily using a whitening toothpaste with fluoride.
Drink water that contains fluoride.
Be sure to remove plaque between teeth by flossing every day.
For good measure, you may also want to consider rinsing with a whitening mouthwash.
Schedule regular, six-monthly visits with your dentist to monitor your teeth whitening, and to look for early signs of tooth decay or gum disease that can be reversed.