Teeth Whitening: Facts and Myths
You’ve considered whitening your teeth, but you’ve heard so much about the procedure, that you’re filled with more questions than a multiple choice test. Is it bad for your teeth? Can you do it yourself? Do whitening toothpaste and strips work?
To answer your questions, here are facts about teeth whitening and how it affects you.
Why do teeth yellow?
Coffee and tea can darken teeth, but these stains can easily be removed either with regular brushing or routine visits to the dentist. Teeth mostly turn yellow due to the erosion of your tooth enamel which gradually reveals the dentin – the yellow core underneath. Tooth wear could be due to exposure to acidic food and beverages, teeth grinding or natural aging. Genetics also affects the thinness of your enamel and the yellowness of your dentin.
There are 2 ways to Whiten Your Teeth
Says the American Dental Association:
- Products with bleaching agents that penetrate the enamel and bleach the dentin underneath.
- Abrasive methods that scrape away superficial stains from the tooth surface.
You Should Ignore the Second Method
Method 1 if appropriately done gives better results, lasts longer and is much less damaging. Abrasive methods are only useful for removing surface stains and will not affect the dentin below. A more troubling fact is that it can damage the enamel and even yellow the teeth faster.
Avoid whitening toothpaste
Whitening toothpaste should be avoided because they’ve been found to be of little or no value. Toothpastes that contain the right bleaching chemicals do not make contact with the teeth long enough – at least 20 minutes – to cause any color change. Even worse, the abrasive whitening toothpaste, while removing only surface stains, could scrape off enamel and dentin damaging your teeth in the process.
What of Whitening Strips?
Carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide are some of the bleaching chemical used in teeth whitening. They can cause tooth sensitivity as well as mouth sores when they come into contact with your gums. Custom whitening trays are preferable to strips because they keep the chemicals from touching your gums and also follow your natural teeth curve. They work better than toothpaste if used carefully and as recommended by your dentist.
Is Professional Whitening the Way to go?
Professional whitening combine hydrogen peroxide and laser light to speed up the process. This has proven to be the safest and most effective way to whiten your teeth.