Teeth Whitening: What Works and What Doesn’t?

At some point in time, most people have looked in the mirror at their teeth and wished they could be a little bit whiter. Teeth whitening is a concept that comes surrounded by lots of myths. It is important when considering whitening your teeth to know what processes are proven to work and what teeth whitening techniques are a waste of your time.

Why teeth turn yellow

Many people believe that staining of teeth is primarily caused by consuming stain-causing foods such as coffee, soda, tea, and red wine. However, these stains can be dealt with by brushing every day and paying regular visits to your dentist.

The real reason teeth often turn or look yellow is because, beneath the outer layer of tooth enamel on each tooth, there is a yellowy core of dentin. When the enamel on your teeth is worn down by eating acidic foods, grinding your teeth, or natural aging processes, teeth can appear more yellow.

The yellowing of your teeth and the thinness or thickness of your enamel is also partially determined by genetics.

Two main whitening methods

The American Dental Association states that there are two main ways to whiten teeth effectively. The first of these ways is to use chemical agents that bleach the teeth by penetrating the enamel and eliminating some of the yellow in the dentin.

The second method of whitening is to use abrasive techniques to remove surface stains from teeth. This method can be achieved through regular use of whitening toothpaste, whitening strips, and other drugstore solutions.

However, many dentists believe that the bleaching method, which is usually done in a professional setting, can be more effective and potentially less damaging to teeth. Abrasive whitening products do not penetrate to the dentin, and if they are used incorrectly, can cause damage to the enamel or your gums due to the abrasion. This excessive abrasion could backfire and increase the yellowing of your teeth.

Whitening toothpaste

Few dentists will enthusiastically recommend the use of whitening toothpaste. Some whitening toothpastes do contain the bleaching agents necessary to whiten teeth, and they are not exposed to the teeth long enough to be effective.

Other, cheaper toothpastes rely on abrasive whitening techniques, which some dentists compare to using sandpaper on teeth. These toothpastes can be damaging by scrubbing away dentin and enamel and will not have a strong whitening effect.

Whitening strips

Most dentists recommend ordering custom whitening trays instead of most drugstore whitening strips to avoid any accidental bleaching agent getting on your gums and to reach the curves of the teeth. These can be more effective than toothpastes from the drugstore, just make sure to check with your dentist about the safest methods.

In-office dental treatments

Trusted dentists such as Owens Cosmetic and Family Dentistry utilize treatments such as Zoom! Whitening to combat moderate staining and yellowing on the teeth. This method is fast acting, and in about an hour, your teeth should appear much whiter.

At-home dental treatments

Dentists can also offer whitening trays to be used at home. This form of treatment can also be used after a Zoom! Whitening process. These professional-strength trays are effective and should be used with the guidance of a dentist to ensure a safe experience. The custom fitted trays will help prevent any gum irritation and make your teeth whiter in an efficient manner.

Final thoughts

Even if you are considering taking a more drastic step to whiten your teeth, it’s important also to remember to brush your teeth two times a day for two minutes with toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush to remove surface stains. Taking the time to brush now will save you the hassle of whitening your teeth in the future!

To schedule a complimentary tooth whitening consultation or for more information about any of our cosmetic dentistry procedures, please call 248-621-4816 or complete our online consultation form.

Emily Harrison’s passion for the medical field began when she started visiting the chiropractor regularly as a child and wanted to know more about how it helped her back. Since then, she has researched and written extensively about different areas of medicine such as chiropractic care, obstetrics, anesthesiology, and dentistry. When she is not writing or researching, she enjoys baking and crossword puzzles.