It’s a new year and if you’re planning on making changes, you might be considering how to whiten your teeth. Teeth can be discolored in many ways, and there are a few strategies that can whiten teeth and correct these problems. Here are a few tips to whiten your teeth this year.
Are Teeth Supposed to be White?
It’s important to remember that no one’s teeth are naturally, perfectly white. Dentin, which makes up most of your teeth, is actually yellow in color, not white. The tough, outer layer protecting the surface of the tooth, the tooth enamel, is off-white. Tooth enamel is made up of 96% minerals, mostly hydroxylapatite, a type of calcium apatite. Though this is the toughest substance in our bodies, it can’t regenerate itself like other tissues can. When the gums pull away from the teeth, or when the tooth enamel is eroded away, the yellowish dentin can become exposed.
How Do Teeth Become Yellow?
Though our teeth aren’t perfectly white to begin with, some other factors can darken them further. Tooth enamel feels smooth, but it’s actually porous, so it’s possible for substances to make their way through this layer. Some of these substances can darken the dentin underneath. This is one type of stain that can make your teeth yellow.
Stains can also sit on top of the enamel layer. A layer of biofilm called dental pellicle forms from the food and drinks we consume. This can also make teeth look yellow. Fighting or preventing these types of stains will also make teeth look whiter.
Bacteria can also make teeth look yellow, or even brown or black. When bacteria attack the teeth, they can damage the dentin and create small holes in teeth, called cavities or dental caries. If cavities go untreated for a long time, they can cause severe tooth discoloration.
5 Tips to Whiten Your Teeth
If you have surface stains on your teeth or your dentin has darkened, you may be wondering how to whiten your teeth. We’ll take a look at a few methods you can try at home.
1. Be Cautious
When trying teeth-whitening products, be cautious. Some methods to whiten your teeth can damage your teeth if you use them too much, or in concentrations that are too high. Never use a substance like household bleach to attempt to whiten your teeth. This won’t work, and it can poison you. Many other natural remedies proposed online haven’t been shown to whiten teeth, and can actually hurt your teeth. If you’re not sure, ask your dentist!
2. Professional Whitening
Professional whitening is one of the most effective ways to whiten your teeth. Your dentist has access to safe, highly-effective teeth whitening products that you won’t find over-the-counter. These products have to be used with care, and your dentist can safely apply them.
BDG uses Boost Whitening to help patients whiten their teeth safely and effectively. Your dentist will apply the whitening gel to your teeth and in two or three twenty minute sessions your teeth will look noticeably whiter. This is ideal if your teeth have significantly yellowed from food stains or tobacco.
3. At-Home Whitening Products
Many at-home whitening products are safe to use according to the instructions. These products use hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to produce a chemical reaction that whitens teeth. This chemical reaction can help to lift surface stains and whiten your teeth a few shades.
Be careful not to over-use at-home whitening products. These products are made to move through the porous layer of tooth enamel and remove surface stains while also whitening the dentin underneath. However, overusing these products damage your tooth enamel and cause teeth sensitivity, or irritate your gums.
4. Brush Twice a Day
Surface stains make teeth look yellower than they are. One of the best ways to remove surface stains and keep your teeth clean and healthy is to brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride toothpaste is designed to strengthen your tooth enamel. The fluoride bonds with the calcium phosphate in your teeth, and strengthens the hydroxyapatite with fluorapatite.
5. Limit or Cut Out Coffee, Tea and Tobacco
Coffee and tea are commonly consumed daily throughout the world, but both coffee and tea can easily stain your teeth. Drinking coffee or tea throughout the day can make matters worse. The nicotine in tobacco products also creates yellow stains that can be particularly hard to remove. This includes chewing tobacco, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and more. One of the best ways to naturally whiten your teeth is to cut down on these staining drinks and products as soon as you can. If you can’t cut them out completely, limit use as much as possible and try to drink water after consuming them, so the stains don’t sit on your teeth.
There are many ways to safely whiten your teeth. If you think your teeth are discolored, your dentist can provide the most effective strategies. If you live in the greater Las Vegas, Henderson or Laughlin area, make an appointment with one of our dentists today to learn more.