So, your New Year’s Resolution was all about you and reinventing yourself. You want to look amazing come summer, you have your work out down pat, your hair looks amazing, but for some reason you cannot get your teeth any whiter. You brush and brush and they are the same color. It is a common misunderstanding that just brushing will whiten your teeth. Before you toss out the toothpaste you’ve been using forever, and start with a super fancy whitening toothpaste; pump the brakes for a second. There is actually a lot of misunderstandings–some of them dangerous, when it comes to teeth whitening.
Before diving into the “do’s and don’t’s” of teeth whitening, you need to understand why your teeth are discolored. For everyone, teeth yellowing is a normal part of aging. As we get older our bodies change, our hair turns gray, and our teeth turn yellow. It’s the inner part, the “dentin”—not “enamel” or white part—that yellows. Teeth are pretty amazing and even repair themselves however, the new dentin is darker. Normally, this would go unnoticed but as the “enamel” or the white part of the tooth is getting thinner due to wear, and the color of dentin reflects through enamel, making the tooth look yellow.
Why does this happen? Why would enamel thin? Well, this is different for everyone. Oral hygiene is great but lifestyle factors like, coffee drinking and acidic foods or smoking can affect your enamel. Not to mention, genetic factors. Your father may have given you those great eyes but unintentionally, also passed on his dental problems. If you are considering doing anything with whitening here are some common mistakes that need to stop happening.
#1 Jumping right in without consulting your dentist. Despite your excitement for whiter, brighter teeth, don’t start bleaching your teeth until you’ve seen your dentist. This may seem silly, but your dentist can determine if you’re a good candidate for whitening, and prep your mouth for the process. In fact, “The best time to bleach is right after a dental cleaning because the tooth’s surface is clean,” says Dr. Francine Albert, a Laval, Que. prosthodontist.
#2 Opting for a generic tooth guard instead of a custom made dental tray. This mistake can result in spilled, or even swallowed whitening solution, and ultimately disappointing results.
#3 Relying on whitening mouth rinses to provide mouth altering results. Many people think they achieve the whitening results they are after by simply rinsing; this is not true. Actually these mouthwashes could be doing more harm than good as a lot of mouthwashes are high in alcohol content which is damaging to your mouth.
#4 Not following directions on white strips boxes. A lot of people tend to ignore the “time limit” part of the instructions when doing a home whitening. Using them longer than intended can lead to unattractive white spots and sensitivity.
#5 not checking to see if this product is FDA approved. Many people don’t think to do this, but these whitening kits are chemicals; something many people forget. If it isn’t FDA approved it can damage your teeth.
#6 Becoming obsessed. This may not sound like a mistake made when whitening, but if you take whitening to an extreme the healthy sheen could be lost in the process and the results could be dreadful. Instead of beautiful you end up with chalky or white splotches. The rule of thumb is that the color of your teeth should match your sclera, or the whites of your eyes.
Now, many people post “home-whitening remedies” with claims that the celebrities use lemon or coconut oil to whiten their teeth. “Beyonce uses toothpaste made out of avocados–look at that smile!” When it comes down to it whitening is a process that should be discussed first and foremost with your dentist. Avoid the common mistakes, don’t fall into the “trendy” tips and you should be able to get the results you want in addition to a healthy mouth.