A bright, white smile can be a big confidence booster and is often seen as a sign of good health and hygiene. But achieving that movie-star gleam isn’t always straightforward. From coffee and red wine to the natural ageing process, various factors can leave our teeth less than pearly white. This blog will guide you through most of the common teeth whitening options. Whether it’s natural remedies, at-home products, or professional treatments, this guide will help you find the best path to a brighter smile.
What Causes Yellow Teeth?
Before diving into the ways to whiten teeth, it’s essential to understand what causes them to be yellow in the first place. After all, knowing the enemy is half the battle!
Everyday foods and drinks are the most common culprits. Coffee, tea, red wine, and dark-coloured sodas can stain teeth over time. Highly pigmented fruits like blueberries, blackberries, and pomegranates can also leave their mark. Acidic foods and beverages can worsen the issue by eroding enamel, making it easier for pigments to latch onto teeth.
Both smoking and chewing tobacco can significantly discolour teeth. The nicotine and tar in tobacco create stubborn stains that can penetrate the tooth surface, leading to a yellow or brownish hue.
As we age, our enamel naturally wears down, becoming thinner and more transparent. This reveals more of the underlying dentin, which is a darker, bone-like tissue beneath the enamel.
Just as we inherit our eye colour, we can also inherit our enamel thickness and natural tooth colour. Some people naturally have brighter or thicker enamel, while others may have teeth that are more prone to yellowing.
Poor oral hygiene, including inadequate brushing and flossing, can lead to plaque and tartar buildup, contributing to tooth discolouration.
Medications and Health Conditions
Certain medications, particularly some antibiotics, can cause tooth discolouration as a side effect. Conditions affecting enamel development in children, like coeliac disease, can also result in discoloured teeth.
Understanding these causes is the first step in choosing the most effective whitening methods.
How to Whiten Teeth Naturally
Natural methods for teeth whitening can be gentle yet effective ways to enhance your smile. Let’s take a look at a few.
Make Dietary Changes
A diet that’s good for your teeth is good for your whole body. Limiting foods and beverages that stain teeth is a great start. Try reducing your intake of coffee, tea, red wine, and dark sodas. If you do indulge, rinse your mouth with water afterward or brush your teeth if possible. Additionally, eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products can help strengthen teeth and prevent decay, which can also affect their colour.
Brush with Baking Soda
Baking soda has natural whitening properties and is a mild abrasive that can help scrub away surface stains on teeth. For a simple toothpaste alternative, mix a small amount of baking soda with water to create a paste and brush gently. Do this a few times a week – remember, overuse can erode enamel.
Chew High Fibre Foods
Foods with a high fibre content, like apples, carrots, and celery, can help clean teeth by removing surface stains and plaque as you chew. These crunchy, fibrous foods increase saliva production, which helps neutralise acids that can wear down enamel.
Activated charcoal in toothpaste form has become popular for its claimed teeth-whitening abilities. It’s believed to absorb surface stains on the teeth. However, be cautious with its abrasive nature and consult with your dentist before regular use, as it might lead to enamel erosion.
Use Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a natural bleaching agent and can kill bacteria in your mouth. You can use it as a mouthwash before you brush your teeth or mix it with baking soda to make a homemade toothpaste. Be sure to use a 3% solution or less to avoid irritation.
Teeth Whitening Products and Other At-home Options
For those looking for more powerful at-home whitening solutions, there are several products available:
Whitening toothpastes typically contain mild abrasives and chemicals that can remove surface stains. Some also contain small amounts of hydrogen peroxide. While they won’t change the natural colour of your teeth, they can improve their appearance by removing stains.
Teeth Whitening Strips
These are thin, flexible plastic strips coated with a whitening gel containing peroxide-based bleaching agents, such as hydrogen and carbamide peroxide. Applied directly to the teeth, they can be a convenient at-home whitening method. It’s important to follow the instructions carefully to avoid gum irritation or uneven whitening.
There are lots of other teeth whitening products available such as teeth whitening pens and at home whitening kits. While these products are effective, it’s always best to consult with your dentist to choose a product that suits your needs.
For those seeking better teeth whitening results, professional teeth whitening is a better option. At Granite Belt Dental, we provide several options tailored to you.
Laser Teeth Whitening
Laser teeth whitening is a popular choice for fast and noticeable results. During this procedure, our dental professionals apply a high-concentration bleaching gel to the teeth. This gel is activated by a special light or laser, enhancing its whitening effects. The entire process typically takes about an hour, and you can expect to see results immediately. It’s an excellent option for busy individuals looking for a significant colour improvement in a single visit.
How Does it Work?
1. Switch to sensitive toothpaste.
Sometimes, teeth whitening procedures can make the teeth very sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, so it’s a good idea to switch to a toothpaste for sensitive teeth a couple of weeks in advance.
2. Book a consult and clean.
Our team likes to make sure our patients are thoroughly informed on the treatments we offer, so we’ll always ask you to come in for a consultation before any whitening procedure. During your consult, we’ll listen to your concerns, note your smile goals, and check that you’re the right candidate for professional teeth whitening. Then, we’ll clean your teeth to remove tartar and plaque, so the teeth whitening treatment is more effective.
3. Get your teeth whitened.
At your appointment, your dentist will cover your gums to prevent damage and apply premium-grade dental bleach to your teeth for a short time, which works to break down pigmentation and stains on the enamel.
4. Apply relief gel.
If you typically suffer from sensitivity, we may provide you with some relief gel to manage your discomfort.
5. Follow your dentist’s instructions.
After your appointment, you’ll need to avoid certain drinks, such as dark liquids, for a couple of days as your teeth will still be porous from the treatment.
Alternative Professional Treatments
Professional teeth whitening is perfect for those who are happy with the appearance of their teeth but would like them a few shades whiter. However, if you have chips, old fillings, or discolouration, you might want to look at getting a set of veneers.
Budget is always an important factor when choosing cosmetic treatments. Veneers can be expensive, so whitening is a better option for most people. Have a chat with your dentist to figure out which option is right for you. Veneers will last up to 15 years depending on the material, and they can be replaced if they become chipped, stained, or broken.
Professional teeth whitening treatments provide durable and noticeable results, making them a worthwhile investment for those seeking a brighter, more confident smile. If you’re considering teeth whitening, contact Granite Belt Dental for a consultation. Our team will help you understand the best options for your teeth and how you can achieve the radiant smile you’ve been dreaming of.