Your Family Dentist Explains Tooth Whitening

It’s the holiday season.  It’s time to relish in the Yuletide spirit as we stuff our stockings and pad the floor beneath our trees with long awaited gifts and a bit of cheer.  But as we carve the roast beast and invite visions of sugar plums to dance in our heads, let’s not forget to take notice of what is truly prancing into our mouths.  As we indulge in Christmas chocolates, cranberry sauce, and the ever-festive red wine, our teeth can only hope that Santa Floss is real.  However, it may not be too late to get off the naughty list and truly enjoy a “white” Christmas with a few tips on teeth whitening.

There are several ways to whiten your teeth, but let’s first understand how the process works.  Bleaching your teeth will lighten the color of your tooth enamel by removing both surface and deeper stains.  The active ingredient typically used is carbamide peroxide (not to be mistaken with hydrogen peroxide) which binds to the particles and removes them from your teeth.  This will not damage enamel, but can dehydrate teeth and expose pores or “tubules” in your teeth causing temporary sensitivity until the pores remineralize over time.

Over-the-counter teeth whitening systems can be an economical way to whiten teeth, but typically take longer as they have a lower percentage of the active ingredient.  Dental offices can provide a higher concentration of bleaching gel along with custom trays to take home for more efficient teeth whitening.  Even higher concentrations of gel can be utilized in an in-office dental treatment under professional supervision.  While in-office treatments are effective, this treatment coupled with take-home gel for touch ups provides the best results.

Of course, a proper diet and regular brushing aid in preventing tooth staining.  However, try to avoid whitening toothpastes that have harsh abrasives that can damage enamel.

After you have taken time to walk in a whitening wonderland, don’t forget to make the most of this season by cherishing those close to you.  May you and your family be blessed this season, and happy smiling!

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