When you think of the “picture perfect” smile, it probably involves very white and perfectly straight teeth. Usually, teeth that are even slightly yellowing or not as stark white are frowned upon and some people mistakenly see them as unhealthy or unclean. The struggle to keep up with western standards of blindingly white smiles has caused some people to overlook the actual health of their teeth. Even bright, white teeth can be masking real problems underneath. Especially for people who are using harsh whitening products, these potential dangers to their oral health should be taken seriously.
Natural Tooth Color
Due to modern beauty standards, many people are completely out of touch with the color of natural, non-bleached teeth. In fact, natural teeth really aren’t very white at all; they’re almost more of a dull yellowish color. That comes from dentin, which is at the core of teeth. It’s covered in tooth enamel which is a cool white color but also very translucent so the yellowish color of dentin peers through. Even teeth that are not stained from food and drink may have a tint, and they can still be perfectly clean and healthy. Still, some reports show that up to 52% of Americans are dissatisfied with the color of their teeth, causing them to seek out potentially harmful whitening methods.
People who set out to get the whitest teeth possible will often reach for home remedies or over-the-counter methods like whitening strips. The problem with this is that these methods can often harm and strip tooth enamel. Once you lose that precious coating on your teeth, you cannot regrow it! These bleaching products will also highly increase sensitivity while also causing irritation to gums. These side-effects aren’t always temporary, either, and can become permanent if the enamel is consistently eroded away. If you absolutely must whiten your teeth, speak to a dental professional so they can tell you about in-office methods that are effective and safe.
Concealing Real Issues
The major problem with constant whitening is not just the damage that occurs from the bleaching products, but the fact that people are under the assumption that as long as their teeth are white, they are fine! Dentists have been reporting an increase of people who seem to think that applying whitening strips is a replacement for brushing and flossing. This alarming trend is causing a decline in oral health and enamel strength, a double whammy when it comes to a healthy mouth. Make sure you are brushing twice a day for at least two minutes along with your daily flossing routine.
Best Ways to Get a White Smile:
- Floss every day! That’s right. It’s not just that annoying reminder you hear from the dentist constantly. Flossing actually helps get rid of buildup between teeth that can collect and appear yellowish in color. This is also why whitening strips sometimes aren’t very effective. Because of the way they are placed onto the teeth, they are not able to whiten the decay that is sitting between two teeth. Flossing and using a water pick can be effective at avoiding that buildup and leading to a whiter smile.
- Avoid staining! There are certain foods that, with repeated exposure, will stain your teeth no matter how much you try to avoid contact. Drinks like coffee, tea, red wine, and colored fruit drinks can really mud up a white smile so try to decrease your consumption or use tactics like using a straw to avoid contact as much as possible. While it’s impossible to avoid all stains, also make sure you’re not brushing too quickly after eating and drinking stained food. The acidity found in these items can soften enamel, so brushing right after consuming them can cause damage to your enamel. Wait about thirty minutes before breaking out the toothbrush.
- Regular checkups! There’s no reason to avoid the dentist for bi-annual cleanings. The more often you go, the better your mouth health will be. Not only do regular cleanings polish and clean teeth, but your dentist is also able to catch potential problems early on. Especially if you are using at –home whitening products, make sure to see a dentist regularly. These methods can cause damage to teeth and conceal real issues that are going on.
- ZOOM Whitening! If you really want to whiten your teeth, seek out the help of a professional. While these methods use a higher concentration of active ingredients to whiten your smile than over-the-counter brands, sometimes it takes more than one visit to reach your optimal whiteness, and there are side effects like sensitivity and slight pain.
- Whitening Trays! Your dentist can create custom fitted trays for your upper and lower teeth. Then you can purchase professional-grade whitening gel from your dentist’s office to use in the trays. Each gel has a different set of directions so be sure to discuss with your hygienist. While you may pay a little bit more money up-front, over the long run, these trays will cost you less than white strips and give you better results.
- Veneers! If you’ve been unhappy with your teeth for some time and whiteness is just one of many issues, think about veneers. While they are not cheap, they can significantly improve your smile. One of the positives is that once you choose the whiteness of your veneers, you will never have to worry about bleaching or whitening ever again!
The most important take away here is that whitening your teeth will not cause them to be healthier as a result. It’s important that people don’t feel a false sense of security that just because their teeth are white, that they’re also free of potential issues like cavities or enamel erosion! Some people have naturally weak enamel, meaning over-the-counter whitening products can cause a lot of harm, resulting in pain. Even people who have normal enamel can experience these issues with the over-use of whitening products. While super white teeth are certainly trendy, they are not always good for you or mean that your teeth are healthy so many sure you keep up with your cleaning routines and check-ups!