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Teeth Whitening: What Works and What Doesn’t

Most people want to have a bright smile and some consider teeth whitening as an option to achieve it. Often, they have several questions about the process. If you are considering the procedure, read on to learn more about it.

Why do teeth turn yellow?

There are several reasons why teeth “turn” yellow. Food and drink do play a part in it (especially highly-staining drinks such as coffee or wine), as well as personal habits, such as smoking. The most common reason, however, is simply natural aging. Your teeth consist of layers, the outermost being the hard, protective layer of enamel. Directly below it is the dentin, which is yellow in color. Over time, your enamel can wear away, allowing the yellowy dentin to become more visible and giving the teeth a duller appearance.

Methods for teeth whitening

There are basically two methods for whitening teeth: the first consists of bleaching ingredients penetrating through the enamel and changing the color of the tooth by bleaching the yellowy dentin; the second is more superficial as it involves abrasive methods that simply remove stains on the top of the enamel.

The second method includes products such as whitening toothpaste, gum, and mouthwash. These products generally are not effective as they do not affect the dentin layer in any way. Whitening toothpastes are especially not recommended because they contain abrasives that can actually do more harm than good as they scrape away dentin and enamel.

Do natural whitening remedies work?

Natural remedies that pop up online may promise results, but, like whitening toothpastes, could actually damage teeth rather than whiten them. These remedies usually consist of hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice being applied to the teeth, both of which can affect the environment in your mouth as well as cause damage to the teeth. Hydrogen peroxide especially should be avoided – rinsing with it can damage the gums.

What is the safest way to whiten teeth?

Though professional whitening sessions do produce results, they are not recommended if you want the results to last. Rather, whitening strips or gel are recommended, and they should be used slowly, gradually whitening the smile. By controlling the use of the whitening products, you reduce your chances of causing damage to the enamel. One of the best ways to achieve a whiter smile is simply to take preventative care of your teeth by brushing (gently) twice a day, covering all surfaces of the teeth over a full two minutes.