Teeth Whitening 101

Everyone wants a bright, white, shining smile, but it isn’t always the easiest to come by. And for this reason, teeth whitening has become a high priority on everyone’s physical checklist. There are many ways to whiten your teeth from professional ‘in-office’ whitening to home whitening kits and even home remedies.

But first… why do teeth yellow?

Unfortunately, many factors can cause teeth to yellow. Certain foods can stain your enamel, as well as, plaque building up on your teeth. Teeth can also look yellow because the hard enamel has eroded, causing the dentin underneath to be revealed and dentin is naturally yellow.

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How does teeth whitening work?

Teeth whitening is a fairly simple process that uses one of two types of bleaches, either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These bleaches break stains into smaller pieces, making the color of your teeth less concentrated and in turn, brighter. However, teeth whitening doesn’t work on all teeth. It won’t work on certain colored teeth, it won’t work on caps, veneers, crowns, fillings or if your discoloration is caused by medications or injury.


Whitening your teeth at home

There are ways to whiten your teeth at home, after all, we’ve all seen the whitening strips and special kinds of toothpaste. There are stain removal kinds of toothpaste you can try that work to remove surface stains through the use of mild abrasives when you scrub your teeth. There are over-the-counter bleaching products, like whitening strips or gels that are enacted by heat. Your dentist may also send you home with an at-home, custom-made bleaching tray. Be sure to always use products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.


In-office whitening

Typically called chairside bleaching, this type of bleaching usually only requires one office visit in which the dentist will apply a protective gel to your gums or even a rubber shield to protect your gums. Once your gums are safe, bleach is applied.


Natural remedies to whiten teeth

Baking soda has been known to have natural whitening properties, so much so that it is found in many kinds of toothpaste. Baking soda creates an alkaline environment in your mouth that prevents bacteria from forming. When mixed with water, you can brush your teeth this way a few times a week. Having a diet high in fruits and vegetables is also a good way to keep your mouth healthy, strawberries and pineapple in particular are said to help whiten your teeth. Strawberries are said to help make them appear whiter, while pineapple may actually help remove stains.


Stop the staining and yellowing before it starts

Prevent stains before they happen by cutting back on coffee, red wine, soda and even dark berries. You don’t need to avoid them completely, but limiting your intake and swishing your mouth out with water afterward, will help prevent stains. Limiting sugar would also be helpful. Stains begin to occur because of eroding of the enamel, exposing the yellow dentin underneath. So, to strengthen your enamel, eat and drink calcium-rich foods and beverages. And of course, brush and floss regularly!


Teeth whitening doesn’t always come quickly, easily or necessarily cheaply, but it is possible. Before doing any type of whitening, be sure that you speak to your dentist as they will be able to tell you which whiting techniques will work, if any at all will. They will also, of course, know the safest ways to go about doing it.