By Anthony Lieu DMD
I often get patients asking me about teeth whitening. It is sort of funny to me that people often overlook huge dental problems and think whitening will make it all better. However the eye of a dentist is different that that of the patient. I am looking to improve teeth….fix cavities to prevent future pain and decay or replace missing teeth to keep all the other teeth in place and prevent a shifting bite. Unfortunately the average person is looking for a quick fix or has just gotten used to the pain or appearance of broken down dentition.
Anyway, for those that are looking to whiten, it does do a great job at brightening up a face and making people look healthier and younger.
Here are a few tips.
Brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes, holding the head at a 45-degree angle away from your gums. Go with medium or soft bristles—stiff brushes will scrape your gums raw. The electric toothbrushes are the best —they clean better and they are gentler on gums, and they make you commit to the entire 2 minutes. You should change your toothbrush or toothbrush head every 60 days or when the bristles become bent, whichever comes first. Click here for a video about proper brushing technique.
First-time users of tooth whiteners often experience sensitive teeth. A study in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry reports that people who brush with potassium nitrate toothpaste for 2 weeks before starting an at-home whitening are less likely to feel increased sensitivity. Our favorite: Sensodyne or Clin Pro toothpaste.
Just as important is knowing when to stop your whitening routine—like if your chompers start to turn blue around the edges. This signals a breakdown of dentin which is the substance beneath the tooth enamel that’s being whitened.
When picking an at-home whitener, use common sense. Stronger bleach concentrations work faster but are likely to cause a little more tooth sensitivity. If you want a complete overhaul from a take home kit, look for a carbamide peroxide concentration of at least 10 percent. In-office trays whiten teeth six shades but can require multiple sessions, and the at-home custom trays require up to seven or ten uses to get desired results (with more gentle results).
You can’t just stick a strip and forget it. Use a whitening toothpaste to keep the shine from fading and a thick floss like Dental Tape. Plaque-heavy areas between your teeth soak up colors. Also go easy on the coffee, dark juice, and wine. All the tasty foods cause staining! No soy sayce, curry, wine, tea or coffee on your teeth right after you have done whitening.
Banish Dragon Breath
If brushing and flossing aren’t doing the trick, it might be your tongue. Your tongue is like a shag carpet from the 1960s—bacteria are hanging out, clinking champagne glasses. The answer: a tongue scraper. Look for one with a rigid edge. Reach as far back as you can, then pull forward, scraping your tongue. Follow with a peroxide mouthwash or Oracare and be sure not to overscrape,
Check our website for our current offer for teeth whitening. We love to see people brighten their smiles and love to be able to help them do it. Opalescence offers great products for whitening with predictable results, and is our go to brand. Some of the drugstore whiteners available at Target or on Amazon work well too, but usually those products have weaker bleaching solutions.