In an effort to make their yellowed or stained teeth look whiter, some people have tried using whitening toothpastes or other over-the-counter dental products, applying white lights or lemon juice, eating apples or strawberries, drinking through a straw, and avoiding wearing gold jewelry or white shirts. Other people have given up on whitening their teeth and have simply used photo editing software to "color" their teeth whiter in photographs. These do-it-yourself solutions may work for the short term, but do they really last?
Why your teeth may not stay white
You may have invested time and money in consumer products or home remedies, yet your teeth still do not appear white enough. Several factors may affect the whiteness of your teeth:
Tobacco products can darken your teeth and can harm your mouth.
Some foods and beverages, such as blueberries, coffee, tea, and red wine, can stain your teeth. (The tubules that are the "infrastructure" of your enamel absorb stains from and are cleansed out by proper whitening procedures.)
Sometimes antibiotics, especially tetracycline, can discolor teeth. This discoloration can occur during tooth formation in babies (even before they are born) and young children up to age seven.
Illness, tooth injuries, and heredity or environment factors can affect the color of your tooth enamel as well as the dentin layer underneath.
Some less reputable over-the-counter bleaching products can irritate your teeth and gums, especially if they are not used correctly.
Also, lack of proper dental care can have a major impact. If you've bleached your teeth but continue to neglect daily brushing and flossing, your teeth and gums will only get worse.
How we can help
Whitening teeth is the most common request for cosmetic dental services. Also, professional whitening treatments may help avoid problems with increased sensitivity in your teeth or gums, which sometimes develops with over-the-counter bleaching products.
Some whitening products can be applied right in our office, while others may be used at home. For example:
Custom-fitted dental bleaching trays can be an effective way to whiten your unique smile. These devices, which look like mouthguards, are lightweight and comfortable, and they can be worn either awake or asleep (if you do not grind your teeth while sleeping).
Bonding materials can reshape and lighten your teeth, particularly when they are cracked or chipped.
Veneers applied over your teeth can create a natural, whitened look.
Lasers and other technology can provide fast, dramatic solutions.
Some professional treatments have an immediate whitening effect, while others may lighten your teeth gradually over a period of days or weeks. We will be happy to consult with you about options that best meet your needs. Usually we will recommend follow-up appointments to ensure that your whitening treatments are effective and that other dental conditions are addressed.
Depending on your eating, drinking, and smoking habits, as well as the overall condition of your teeth, the whitening treatments may last anywhere between one and five years. By having regular dental checkups and maintaining consistent homecare routines, you can help to ensure that your whitened teeth remain beautiful and healthy.