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What's Up Magazine

Show Off Those Pearly Whites

Aug 09, 2018 12:00AM

By Kelsey Casselbury

With all those celebs flashing their bright-white grins, it’s no wonder that most people long for stain-free, pearly teeth. Let’s face it—you already know that it’s your coffee, red wine, black tea and soda habits that are giving your chompers a yellowish tint, but those habits are hard to break!

Of course, you’re not the only one with these teeth-staining habits. In 2015, Americans spent more than $11 billion on teeth-whitening products, including more than $1.4 billion on at-home products, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. While you work on cutting back on the causes of discolored teeth, there are both in-home and in-office whitening treatments that can help brighten your smile. 

Talk to the Doc

There are two ways to whiten your teeth: Bleaching, which removes both surface stains and those deeper in the teeth to change the color of the enamel, and abrasive whitening kind of toothpastes, which essentially scrape off any surface stains. When you visit a dentist for a whitening procedure, they will offer you options for bleaching combined with using a laser or light that speeds up the process.

Bleaching sounds scary, but it’s really not—in fact, it’s the safest way to whiten your teeth without damaging the enamel. At Soistman Family Dentistry & Associates in Centreville, the most popular treatment is Zoom Whitening, which requires only two hours.

“You’ll have the ability to see a difference immediately after,” Soistman Family Dentistry Marketing Director Laura Livington says. “You’ll leave with the smile you have been desiring, and we’ll provide you with a complimentary custom-made whitening tray, so you can continue to whiten at home.” 

In Annapolis, David W. Handelsman, DDS, recommends a 45-minute whitening system called Venus White Max, but he can also fit a custom mouth tray to take home. “White teeth give you a more youthful appearance and tends to make you smile more,” he says. “This results in a happier more confident you.” 

Keep in mind that the effectiveness of teeth-whitening will vary from person to person. Teeth that have been tinted yellowish often respond well to bleaching, while brown teeth don’t do quite as well. Grayish- and purplish-hued usually don’t respond at all. 

Brighten at Home

Before resorting to store-bought whitening kits, consider talking to your dentist about a whitening treatment that you can do at home. These kits include custom-made mouth trays and professional grade solutions. The American Dentist Association recommends visiting with a dentist before any bleaching procedure, particularly if you have fillings, crowns or very dark stains. 

Of course, you can try your hand at whitening toothpastes or over-the-counter bleaching products, such as strips. The toothpastes take anywhere from two to six weeks to have an effect, though it won’t be as noticeable as an in-office procedure. When browsing products at the store, look for one with an ADA seal on it—that means
the association has approved it
for safe and effective use at home. 

What Happens Next? 

After any form of teeth-whitening, other than toothpaste, expect some sensitivity in your chompers. “The teeth become temporarily dehydrated, which reduces their ability to insulate the nerve from changes in temperature,” Livingstone explains. “The sensitivity will disappear 12 to 36 hours after whitening.”

And, of course, you want to avoid wasting the investment you made by re-staining your teeth. “Reduce the main drivers of discoloration: red wine, dark tea, and smoking,” Handelsman says. Soda and coffee can do a number on your teeth, too, as can berries. “You do not have to avoid these—simply rinse or drinking water afterward,” he says.