The glittering smiles of Hollywood stars are perhaps not a realistic ideal for most people to strive for, but that doesn’t mean having to put up with heavily stained or discolored teeth.
Many people wish to increase the whiteness of their smile, and there are many products available on the market to help with this, both over-the-counter and those restricted to the dental surgery. Do any of them actually work, and are they safe to use?
1. Whitening Mouthwash
This type of product offers the simplest prospect of teeth whitening. Use of a good, non-whitening mouthwash is highly recommended as part of normal dental hygiene, and the promise is that by replacing your standard mouthwash with one containing whitening agents, you can brighten your smile at the same time as protecting against decay.
Unfortunately, the truth is a little less conveniently impressive. Although whitening mouthwashes do contain agents that will over time help to decrease dental staining, these ingredients aren’t very powerful.
If they were actually strong enough to have any dramatic effect, they would also risk causing gum and tooth problems, and would have restrictions placed upon their use. That’s not to say that using these products is entirely without merit, but they are best viewed as supporting players to a more effective whitening treatment.
2. Whitening Toothpaste
Whitening toothpastes have a similar problem to mouthwashes in that the ingredients they contain are so weak that they can have little real effect.
However, these toothpastes also suffer from a second problem: most of them also contain abrasives to remove a thin layer of stained material from the surface of the tooth.
When used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, this will cause no problem, but the temptation is to over-use the toothpaste to get a more visible result, and this can cause tooth damage. At best, it may lead to sensitive teeth, while at worst it can promote cavities and decay.
3. Dental Whitening Strips
These are the first class of products looked at here that actually contain whitening agents in sufficient concentrations to have a real, visible effect. Dental strips will certainly result in whiter teeth, but there are two main problems.
Firstly, it can be difficult to properly apply the strips so that they cover the curved surfaces of your teeth evenly. This can result in unbalanced whitening, with the areas near the gums often staying a darker shade – not an attractive look.
Secondly, if the strip is applied inaccurately and is placed over your gums, over time this can easily lead to problems including inflammation and sensitivity.
4. Home Bleaching Kits
Most dentists would agree that these DIY whitening kits should be approached with extreme caution, especially if they’re bought online where the ingredients, effectiveness, and safety can all be hard to rely on.
With such kits, it’s difficult to know whether they will have any effect at all, or whether they in fact contain bleaching agents strong enough to cause real and lasting damage which can be painful and costly to rectify.
If you buy one of these products from a reputable company and follow the instructions carefully, you will probably see good results, but you should probably avoid the cheaper, more anonymous offerings if you value your dental health.
5. Professional Whitening
This involves a variety of treatments only available from your dentist, ranging from whitening kits which are similar to over-the-counter products but safer and more tightly controlled, to powerful laser treatments which can have dramatic effects in less than an hour.
All reputable dentists will be able to advise on the best whitening option for your needs, and although the treatments can be expensive the results are dependable, safe, and will last for at least a couple of years.
You will also benefit from the oversight of your dental surgeon who will ensure that you have no existing problems which an unsupervised whitening procedure could easily make worse.
6. Dental Veneers
This is a kind of cosmetic dentistry which is fast growing in popularity because of its effectiveness, safety, and relative lack of expense.
Veneers are thin slivers of porcelain or similar materials which are carefully shaped to cover your existing tooth surfaces, resulting in a natural and undetectable look which can be as light in shade as you’d like.
Veneers are quick to fit, usually needing only two visits to your dentist, and will effectively whiten your smile for up to a decade, as well as covering up other small cosmetic problems such as chips or small gaps.
Whether you’re looking for a brand new smile or just for teeth a few shades whiter, there are many options available. Unfortunately, the cheapest and easiest to use choices are generally the least effective, and also carry the highest danger of side effects.
Ultimately, if you want effective whitening with minimum risk, then a visit to your dentist to explore professional treatment is the best route to take.
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