Quickly. Think of three things that are white. For instance, vanilla ice cream, snow, and teeth. Well, two out of three isn’t bad. And maybe it’s a surprise to learn that without some intervention, human teeth are never pure white. In fact, over time, many of the things we do day-in and day-out are not helping us keep our teeth as close to white as they were when they first came in.

The culprits in dulling our teeth are simple:
coffee and tea, dark fruit juices, red wine, and colas
soy sauce, tomatoes, and tomato sauce
dark berries such as blueberries and blackberries
tobacco, both chewing and smoking

Even without these offenders, our tooth enamel darkens with age, regardless of what we do. Truly, when it comes to stains and discolorations, our teeth are fighting a never-ending battle.

So, if you dream of teeth as bright and white as those of your favorite celebrities, what can you do?
Of course, brushing and flossing daily does help keep stains away. And your every six months visits to your dental hygienist for a professional cleaning and polishing will leave your mouth feeling refreshed and your teeth looking significantly brighter than they did when you came in. But to get closer to the sparkling smile you want, you’ll need to try something more.

Are there home remedies for whitening teeth?
If you want a brighter smile for a specific occasion or because a particular stain is quite noticeable, you can try several natural remedies at home. To perk up lightly stained teeth, brush with baking soda or hydrogen peroxide once or twice a week or use a highly diluted mixture of hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash. You can also try rinsing your mouth with a diluted mixture of water and apple cider vinegar. These natural remedies don’t guarantee results, and even though they’re safe, you won’t want to use them every day. Any of these ingredients could cause damage to your teeth if you use too strong a mixture or use it too often.

Are over-the-counter whitening products safe?
Among the dozens of toothpaste brands on drugstore shelves, you can find many that claim to whiten teeth. Look carefully, though. Only a few, specifically those that contain baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, or both, have any power to make a difference without exposing your teeth to potentially harmful chemicals. Even when you brush daily, their results aren’t immediate and may not be as dramatic as you’d like. Depending on the kind and amount of stains or discoloration your teeth exhibit, getting a result you are satisfied with may take weeks, or even months, of consistent daily use.

Do-it-yourself teeth whitening kits may be only marginally better. They include a plastic tray and a solution containing one or more of the ingredients noted above. Yes, these kits are safe to use. And, yes, they do work to a degree. But every mouth is different, and these kits don’t offer any options for adjusting the size or depth of the tray or even the level of chemicals in the solution. In addition, although they produce improvement, they can cause discomfort or even damage to your teeth and gums.

What’s involved in a professional tooth whitening?
The most reliable method for whitening your teeth is a professional tooth whitening procedure performed by your dentist. Your teeth can come out whiter — as much as eight shades whiter — with a professional procedure, regardless of how poorly your teeth have fared in the day-to-day fight against stains. Any dentist-provided tooth whitening procedure is also safer than remedies that rely on guesswork or drugstore whitening kits. Best of all, you can get a professional tooth whitening procedure done here at Stiles Dental Care, or we can send you home with custom materials and the professional guidance to make them work without worry.

When you choose a professional tooth whitening procedure in our office, the goal will be to bring your teeth to a shade of color that reflects what’s natural for your mouth and your overall coloring. It’s important to note, however, that a tooth whitening procedure does just what it says it does: whiten teeth. Previously done dental work will not be affected, so while they may appear more or less noticeable after the whitening, fillings, crowns, implants, and other devices will always maintain their original color.

After we thoroughly clean your teeth, we’ll coat them with a whitening solution that contains peroxide as a bleaching agent. We’ll leave the treatment to work until the desired tooth shade is reached or the maximum safe time is passed. If needed, a fluoride treatment may be applied at the end of soaking time to lessen the risk of mouth sensitivity, which is a common, short-lived side effect of whitening, whether done by a dentist or at home with store-bought products. When the treatment is completed, your teeth will be rinsed clear of the solution. The result will be a bright new smile that looks as if it’s always been that way.

Ready to do it or simply curious?
Either way, contact us. We’d be happy to talk with you about all the pros and cons of each option and help you determine which path is most likely to leave you pleased and smiling, brightly.