Dental Care

Teeth Whiteners Give You More Shine


What are teeth whiteners and how to apply them?

Smile! Because when people tell you to show off your pearly whites, today's products and techniques make it easy to do just that.

Teeth whiteners come in the form of bleaching gels, strips that apply to the teeth, dehydration lights, and other procedures.

We've talked in a previous article on oral hygiene products about the obsession with early man in cleaning his teeth to protect their loss. They also tried to keep them white, but some of the methods of teeth whiteners they used caused a gradual disfigurement. Ancient Egyptians ground them with pumice stone and brushed wine vinegar onto them. Medieval man allowed his barber -who rendered many so-called medicinal treatments -to file them down and paint them with nitric acid, which we use today for engraving and metal refining.

You've probably noticed that children's baby teeth are always so white. When the adult teeth come in, however, they are not so bright, and they darken as a person ages because the mineral composition changes throughout the years. Tooth enamel wears thin and becomes more porous, so that substances such as tobacco, coffee, and tea are more likely to stain the teeth.

Cheap Teeth Whiteners

Baking soda is useful for those who apply it regularly and don't expect immediate, drastic results. Known by chemists as sodium bicarbonate, it is naturally slightly abrasive, so it works to scrub stains away.

It also releases free radicals when it's mixed with water, and they break the double carbon bond of stains. Some people apply baking soda directly to their toothbrush, and other buy toothpaste that contain baking soda.

More Commercial Teeth Whiteners

Most other methods utilize peroxide in one form or another. Look for products that contain carbamide peroxide at a strength of about 15% -most products range from 10-30%.

Carbamide peroxide once mixed with water or saliva reconstitutes as hydrogen peroxide, and some products simply contain that. If you begin with hydrogen peroxide, look for a strength of 3-10%.

  • Most people are familiar with the whitening strips. These are thin, plastic strips cut to fit the upper and lower teeth, coated with a gel that will whiten the teeth if used twice daily for a week or two. Many people complain that they cause the teeth to become sensitive and discontinue use before they see results. The more worn your tooth enamel is, the more sensitivity you will feel. It does disappear after a couple days. The strips cost about $30.
  • Whitening gel can be applied to vinyl or rubber mouth guards that you wear for a brief period of time, also twice daily. You must be careful not to apply too much gel, because if it overflows the guard it can cause minor irritation to gum tissues. Some brands are less than $10.
  • Your dentist can apply gel of a higher strength to your teeth in his office. This is not nearly as cost effective, but the results will be more dramatic and he will take measures to protect your gums. Sometimes he utilizes a special light to speed the process along. Your teeth will become five or six shades lighter in the short space of an hour. Expect to pay around $500.
  • Dentists also offer permanent teeth whitening processes by bonding veneer overlays to the teeth. This starts at about $700 per tooth.
  • Women are buying combination purse units that contain a whitener/breath freshener to paint onto your teeth at one end and a lip gloss at the other. This is really a temporary fix, but many users swear that at the very minimum its use immediately after meals stops food stains from setting.
  • Some stores are cropping up that offer teeth whitening by laser lighting. Experts have noted that when lasers are used without the peroxide gel, the teeth return to something like their original shade in about a week. This is because the light dehydrates each tooth to make it appear whiter, and it wears off. Prices average around $100.
  • Commercial mouth rinses combine fluoride, breath fresheners, and peroxide for a moderately effective home regimen. The mouth rinse should be used twice a day. It probably works best for those who have undergone a whitening process, as part of an after-care regimen.
  • Whitening toothpastes really don't do much. Your teeth will look whiter while the foam from the product is all over them, but the toothpaste doesn't stay on the teeth long enough to be truly effective.
  • Many people simply buy plain old hydrogen peroxide and gargle with it twice daily. It can be diluted 50-50 or used at full strength; it shouldn't be swallowed. Peroxide also makes an effective antiseptic rinse. Care should be taken not to buy anything stronger than 3%-10%. Stronger solutions are available over the counter for bleaching hair, and they are not for oral use.
  • For those who have suffered stained teeth from trauma or surgery, an endodontist can perform a complicated procedure that injects peroxide gel into the tooth itself and whitens from the inside out.

To the top of this article about Teeth Whiteners.


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