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How to Get Whiter Teeth

If you’re like me, you really like (or need) your coffee! That’s why I whiten my teeth about once a year! There are many foods and habits that contribute to the staining of your teeth. There are few different options available to whiten your teeth, and different products will meet different needs of each individual patient

The first category includes over-the-counter products that may be purchased a drug store or online. Many patients will try whitening toothpastes or mouthwashes. These products contain abrasive particles that remove surface stains, such as those accumulated by smoking. I do not often recommend these products, as they can be TOO abrasive. Charcoal toothpastes have recently become popular, and these work in a similar way. Some toothpastes contain hydrogen peroxide, which helps to lighten yellowing teeth. Bleach strips and paints contain active lightening ingredients as well, but oftentimes they are not concentrated enough for patients to see a true difference. I recommend patients eschew celebrity-promoted products, which are often expensive and ineffective.

There are two kinds of doctor-prescribed whitening, one that may be completed in the office and the other that may be completed at home. When completing in-office whitening, high-strength bleaching gel is carefully applied to your teeth. This procedure typically lasts approximately an hour and half. I typically recommend this procedure when patients have an event and need white teeth immediately. The other doctor-prescribed whitening is completed at home by the patient. A dental laboratory will use impressions of your teeth to make custom trays that conform to your teeth. These flexible trays are then worn at home for an hour a day over a two week period. The benefit of at-home bleaching is that many patients will want to “touch-up” their smiles over time. As long as the trays still fit, they still work!

Many patients are concerned with the side effects of bleaching. The great thing about bleaching is that any side effects are temporary. A small number of patients may have sensitivity during or after bleaching, but this typically resolves quickly. When completing in-office bleaching, occasionally a small white spot will appear on the gums. This too will be gone within a few days. In order to maintain your new shade, I often recommend avoiding the staining foods. Alternatively, I recommend using a straw when you enjoy your morning brew. Bleaching is a great way to reward yourself for sticking to a diet plan or quitting smoking–or to simply treat yourself! I would love to discuss your options with you!

Dr. Gordon

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