I love to drink coffee. I also enjoy black tea and the occasional glass of wine. And I'm addicted to berries and love sweets! Unfortunately, all of these factors contribute to teeth yellowing and becoming discolored.
Today, I'm going to discuss why you should have a white, crisp, clean smile and I'll show you the different options available for safe teeth whitening.
You will learn:
- Why Does Your Smile Matter?
- Teeth Whitening Is Nothing New
- Everyday Habits For White Teeth
- Understanding The Basics Of Teeth Whitening
- Safe Teeth Whitening At Home
- Limitations Of Whitening Your Teeth
- Buy Teeth-Whitening Products From Trusted Sources
- Follow Directions Included With The Kit
Disclaimer: I made every effort to provide meaningful information based on accurate and recognized research. I also consulted several dentists while compiling this information. Despite this, I am not a doctor, dentist, or dental hygienist and cannot provide medical or dental advice. Maybe if I played a dentist on TV, I could – but this is just my opinion and experience. The information presented here is relevant only to the appearance of your teeth and smile in respect of personal style. Before pursuing any treatment presented or advice, I recommend that you consult with a relevant, accredited professional.
OK – now that that's out of the way – let's get into the teeth whitening tips and guide.
Why Does Your Smile Matter?
To begin with, we have to discuss why your smile matters. I know some of you out there are probably thinking something like:
“Why is this even important? Shouldn't a man get on with his life and use a bar of soap and never have to worry about his teeth and everything?
The reason this is important has a lot to do with what you do and what kind of message you're trying to send.
#1 Personal relationships
Research backs up that as many as 70% of women look at your teeth and decide whether or not they want you as a partner.
Seriously – It's that important.
They're thinking of that first kiss: If your teeth are, well, pretty darn gnarly, and it just looks like there may be disease lurking in there, she's not going to want to get close to you.
#2 Professional appearance & earning power
When it comes to being hired, you're 58% more likely to be hired if you have a crisp, clean smile instead of having yellow teeth. One of the best reasons for safe teeth whitening.
What it comes down to is that you want to present the best you.
Teeth Whitening Is Nothing New
The ancient Greeks supposedly had a concoction they would drink for whiter teeth.
In Europe, during the Renaissance, we can read of white teeth being a prized asset.
Even American history tells stories of presidents, actors, and wealthy businesspeople buying teeth and paying quite a bit for advanced detail care!
Like it or not – these are qualities society elevates. You'll close more sales, create stronger feelings of trust, and appear more attractive with a great smile.
But how can you get a white tooth smile without damaging your teeth?
Everyday Habits For White Teeth
Tip #1 Upgrade your toothbrush
If you've had the same toothbrush for a year, chances are you need to upgrade. The easiest way to tell is to look at the bristles. If they're starting to bend to the outside, you should replace it.
Replacing it does not have to be expensive either – your dentist can suggest a good brand or even give you a free toothbrush. In a new toothbrush, you need to ensure it has soft bristles and the shape to clean the tooth's surface and between the teeth effectively.
Tip #2 Brush your tongue
There is always bacteria on your tongue. By brushing your tongue, you remove the food residue on which bacteria thrives.
If you don't do this, the excessive bacteria buildup on your tongue can stain your teeth.
Tip #3 Use mouthwash
Using a mouthwash reduces bacteria buildup, freshens your breath, and prevents tooth decay.
For teeth whitening, you need to look for a mouthwash that contains hydrogen peroxide, the main ingredient used in most teeth whitening products.
If you're uncomfortable putting hydrogen peroxide into your mouth, there are products available that don't have it. Make sure you check the ingredients list.
Tip #4 Eat raw fruit and vegetables
Raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts are crunchy and do an excellent job of cleaning your enamel.
They serve almost like a mini brush and naturally clean your teeth. Oh – and they're good for you.
Tip #5 Rinse your mouth after eating acidic food or drink
You need to rinse your mouth after eating or drinking something acidic. The acid in things like oranges, lemons, sodas, and certain fruit juices will immediately start attacking your enamel. This danger is why it's recommended you brush your teeth twice a day. After about 15 hours, these acids can begin to damage your enamel, depending on the strength of the acid.
Understanding The Basics Of Teeth Whitening
To understand safe teeth whitening, you first need to understand what discolors teeth.
- Age – teeth change color and become darker over time. As we age – the outer protective layer of the enamel gets worn out, revealing the natural darker yellow color of the inner layer of dentin. Children have whiter teeth than adults because their enamel is still intact. Men have the largest percentage of dentin.
- Drinks – stains from consuming coffee, wine, or tea add to the discoloration of teeth.
- Food – colors and acids found in food and fruits stain teeth.
- Wear and tear – too much fluoride from toothpaste or environmental sources (high fluoride levels in water) can cause teeth discoloration, making them appear darker.
- Cigarettes and tobacco – smoking can also cause surface stains on teeth.
Safe Teeth Whitening At Home
A teeth-whitening home kit involves the application of a carbamide peroxide solution.
Carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide when exposed to water; hydrogen peroxide is the active bleaching agent in the solution.
The whitening kit includes a tray similar to the mouth guards used by sports professionals. The tray is first placed in hot water and then fixed over the teeth to mold to the user's mouth.
A whitening gel peroxide solution is then poured into the tray and worn for a couple of hours or overnight, depending on the degree of teeth discoloration.
Incorrect use of these kits can cause discoloration, splotches on your teeth, or increase sensitivity and, in some cases can be painful.
At-home whiteners contain a lower strength bleaching agent – 10% to 20% carbamide peroxide content with about 3% hydrogen peroxide. These gels do not remove plaque from your teeth – they change the color of surface stains.
The concentration of the solution is mild – to offer gradual results. With lower percentages of peroxide in the whitening gel, you can leave the solution in your mouth for longer.
A higher percentage, 45% carbamide peroxide, is only administered under the supervision of a dentist.
What to expect during teeth whitening
The two side effects of using a whitening kit are a temporary increase in tooth sensitivity and a slight irritation of the gums.
Tooth Sensitivity: Sensitivity in the teeth is common 24 hours following a teeth whitening kit. If it becomes painful, STOP immediately. Honestly, teeth whitening isn't suitable for everyone, and you need to look out for yourself and understand we all have different sensitivities to the types of whitening solutions used.
Possible irritation of the gums: Soft-tissue irritation usually happens when the whitening gel contacts the gums. To avoid this – make sure to avoid getting the solution on the gums in the first place!
Both these conditions are temporary and usually disappear with a day of stopping the application. Sensitivity can be reduced or eliminated by either discontinuing the whitening products for a few days or by shortening the duration of the application.
Limitations Of Whitening Your Teeth
Teeth whitening is a long-term process.
You will require subsequent treatments to improve the color of your teeth. Depending on the severity of the stains, regular use of a safe teeth whitening kit can lighten your teeth by 6 – 8 shades.
Yellow-colored teeth respond best to whitening. Teeth with a brownish tinge don't respond as well (in this case – see your dentist!).
Ingestion of too much fluoride or smoking can cause gray stains, which won't be too affected by teeth whitening kits.
With darker teeth, the first application with a whitening agent reveals significant results. The color difference is less visible as your teeth get closer to their natural color.
Remember, the aim is not to have perfectly white teeth. A shade closer to off-white is more realistic.
Excessive (think weekly) use of whitening products will increase the erosion of your enamel. I only whiten my teeth every 3 to 6 months (it depends on whether or not I'm speaking at an event).
Teeth whitening products can only lighten your existing tooth color. In addition, they work on natural teeth, not on dentures, veneers, or crowns. To remove stains on dentures – visit your dentist.
Buy Teeth-Whitening Products From Trusted Sources
Why would you want to buy whitening products from a dentist if you can find a cheaper source online?
You might save some cash by going through an unverified online source, but you could end up with an ineffective product not licensed for use. Be wary of any dental product that the American Dental Association (ADA) doesn't approve.
Home-use products dispensed at a dentist's office generally contain 10% carbamide peroxide and have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Look for this logo for safe teeth whitening:
A non-ADA-approved teeth whitener could be effective, but it could harm your teeth and body (chemicals not approved for oral use).
My recommendation is Sparkle White Professional Home Teeth Whitening Kit from White With Style. They are ADA approved, and I tested them myself.
Follow Directions Included With The Kit
The most common mistake is using too much of the solution. A solution of 1ml is sufficient to place in the mold.
Not using the mold properly results in spilled or swallowed whitening solution. It keeps the bleach in contact with the teeth and prevents the solution from irritating the gums. Leaving the mold in your mouth for too long can hurt gums and cause white splotches on your teeth.
Always follow the instructions for the time limit. This time limit is often directly related to the concentration of the peroxide solution.
Avoid soda or acidic beverages for a few hours after applying a teeth whitening gel. (I say avoid them altogether if you're serious about your health!)
Blue light activates the peroxide. Don't use it if you have sensitive teeth.