You’re going to drink coffee, tea and red wine. Soy sauce, and similar—even healthy blueberries—can be culprits. And one of the negatives of aging is a dingy smile. The dentist still offers the strongest, most effective, and most expensive method. Luckily, Over-the–Counter (OTC) avenues exist to brighten your smile.
In a 2009 report, the American Dental Association cites published studies indicating teeth bleaching as, overall, a safe procedure. The ADA also agreed with the findings that whitening/bleaching products containing up to 6% hydrogen peroxide are safe in OTC kits. They distinguish bleaching as whitening beyond the natural color; and whitening as restoring natural color. Retailer often use “whitening” even if bleaching involved.
There are a host of “professional” whitening kits. They entail applying a gel or strip to teeth, or bleaching/whitening with peroxide trays, which are the most expensive. OTC products range in price from $20 to $150, while dentist dispensed take-home kits range $75-$400. Many Internet retailers offer deals on kits.
Whitening toothpaste removes surface stains, so teeth appear brighter; but do avoid overly abrasive pastes. Abrasive substances wears on the enamel. Strips, gels and bleaching kits offer better and more long-term results, as these actually whiten the enamel. Time frames vary. Strips, and similar, usually take fourteen days, often twice daily for a minimum of thirty minutes. Many kits require from an hour to overnight. On the strips, the whitening agent resides on one side of plastic strips (some are dissolvable); which you press onto the front of your teeth. Once adhered, leave on for thirty minutes. Gels and bleaching kits are a little more involved, requiring a tray. Fill the tray with a gel or whitening agent, which must fit snugly around the teeth to ensure all teeth get treated. Although most effective, consumers often complain of ill-fitting trays and product leakage into their mouths, with the bleaching kits. Another bleaching procedure involves brushing the chemical onto each tooth. Some of these require a light device to aid the process.
The professional consensus? All methods work best on yellowing teeth. Gray or brown colored, pitted or otherwise damaged, severely discolored, or manufactured teeth will likely require a $200-$400 treatment dispensed by the dentist. Circumstances do exist where whitening (home or otherwise) should be avoided, such as worn enamel, kids under the age of 16 or pregnancy. Some of these conditions can also affect the effectiveness of the most highly rated kits. WebMD offers a comprehensive list at http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/teeth-whitening?page=3. Keep in mind that no method, even by the dentist, lasts permanently unless you no longer eat or drink anything that stains teeth. Or, and if you can retard the aging process. Otherwise, find a method that works for you and keep an extra application on hand.
Cheers to a brighter, age reversing smile—but know that dentists caution to avoid beverages/foods that stain for 48-72 hours after whitening your teeth.
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