Who doesn’t desire a bright white smile? Teeth discolouration can result in loss of self-esteem and low confidence, but thankfully there are many methods of teeth whitening available. Whether you choose to have them whitened professionally or at home, you can have results that will have your confidence levels soaring again. The reason for wanting to whiten teeth in the first place is discolouration. We will find out what causes it and how the different options help to treat this problem.
What Causes Teeth Discolouration?
Over time teeth may become discoloured due to aging, the foods we eat (with strong staining power or acidic content), medications we take (for example antibiotics) or even our genetics. Ironically, the very fluorides we use to protect and strengthen our teeth may also change their colour if they are exposed to concentrations that are too high. Additionally, cavities, problems with tooth development and trauma to a tooth or teeth may also affect their appearance. Certain dental procedures like root canals or restorations also cause discolouration in teeth.
Teeth Whitening Styles
Teeth whitening methods fall into two main categories. At home teeth whitening or professionally done teeth whitening. Both methods of teeth whitening are effective because they do result in whitening, however there are differences in duration of treatment and cost.
At Home Teeth Whitening
This option comes in various forms. Each will be discussed below:
Whitening trays – Some of these trays come pre-filled with whitener and are then placed into the mouth for a specified time. Others come with a whitener that you have to add to the tray, place into the mouth, then illuminate with a light, which comes with the kit. They can be purchased over the counter or online. This is one of the best ways to whiten teeth fast.
Whitening strips – These strips come in a package and are meant to be used for a week or more. They gradually whiten the teeth over the treatment period.
Whitening rinses – These are meant to be used as part of your daily routine and don’t require much time. As the name suggests, you simply rinse with it. They support the whitening treatment by helping to maintain brightness afterward and also in preventing new stains from developing.
Whitening toothpastes – Brushing with whitening toothpastes helps to removes stain from the surface of teeth and can also be used to support a whitening treatment. Brushing alone however is not effective enough to cause dramatic whitening.
Professional or In-office Whitening
The best and safest way to whiten teeth is to do so professionally. There are a number of options available to choose from however the lead up procedure is pretty standard. Your dentist will begin by cleaning and buffing the teeth to be able to assess the true extent of the discolouration.
Next the dentist will make a record of the shade of your teeth prior to treatment. This will prove useful for comparison at the end of the session.
Steps will then be taken to protect the gums and possibly the tongue and cheeks from contact with the whitening agent. The concentrations of peroxide used for in-office dental whitening procedures are much stronger than at home kits.
Next the whitener is applied to the teeth selected for treatment in the form of a gel or paste. Some procedures use an activating light which works along with the whitening agent and some do not require it.
The procedure may take from an hour to an hour and a half, after which the agent is removed and the teeth are cleaned and finalized. Based on the results your dentist may also recommend a take home kit for you to use to bring your teeth to the highest level of whiteness.
Home Remedies and Natural Ways to Whiten Your Teeth
Practical things you can do to help keep your teeth white include brushing after each meal. Not having food sit on your teeth for extended periods of times reduces their contact time to become stained and also helps remove plaque which affects the appearance of teeth.
Brushing with unfiltered apple cider vinegar for about a month is also an effective whitening treatment. Be careful not to brush too vigorously and you may want to rinse thoroughly after brushing or follow through with your regular fluoride toothpaste.
Using a mixture of equal parts of water and hydrogen peroxide as a mouth rinse is another easy way to help achieve and maintain whiter teeth. The antibacterial properties of hydrogen peroxide help to get rid of bacteria which contribute to an overall healthy mouth.
Mixing a small amount of baking soda with hydrogen peroxide to form a paste and brushing gently is an effective way to remove plaque and food stains.
Teeth Whitening Costs – Professional versus At Home
Naturally, the cost of whitening your teeth at home will be significantly cheaper than having them professionally done.
At home teeth whiteners may range in price from $5-50 dollars and may vary in efficacy based on the method of treatment chosen.
If your doctor recommends a take home kit to support your in office treatments, these may cost you from $200 up to $400 depending on how long you are required to use them.
The most expensive is inevitably professional teeth whitening which may be as expensive as $1000 but is the most effective and safest method, in terms of best practices being applied.