One of the most frequently asked questions our dental teams hear is: “how do I get my teeth whiter?”
There are a few factors that affect the color of our teeth.
One factor is the tooth itself. Our teeth have three parts. The innermost part of the tooth is called the pulp. This is where the blood and nerve supply of the tooth is located. The second layer is the dentin, this is a harder structure that is yellow in color. The outermost layer is the enamel.
Fun fact: Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body!
Our enamel is white in color, but it can be opaque (hard to see through) or transparent (easy to see through). If you have more transparent enamel, the yellow of the dentin layer will come through giving your teeth more of a yellow color. As a result, some people have naturally yellow-appearing teeth.
Another factor that affects the color of our teeth is stains. The most obvious stain culprits are smoking, tea, coffee, and wine. These cause stains by leaving behind pigments (color) on the enamel’s surface.
So, how do you get your teeth white and your smile bright?
The most effective and least expensive way to get a bright healthy smile is through twice-daily brushing, nightly flossing, and regular visits to the dentist. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of these activities:
When brushing, keep the bristles angled at the gum line and make tiny circles. Consider using a whitening toothpaste for additional brightening benefit.
Make sure to floss every night with either regular floss or a waterpik. Flossing helps remove stains between teeth and clean below the gum line which helps keep the gums and bones healthy.
For healthy teeth that sparkle, visit the dentist every six months. If you have periodontal disease, your dental care team may recommend that you come every three to four months.
Additional options for teeth whitening* include:
- Over-the-counter products like whitening strips or mouthwashes. These products work by lightening the dentin layer (aka the yellow layer) of your tooth. This is an affordable and often quite effective option for changing the color of your teeth.
- Professional whitening at a dental office. A dentist can create custom fit trays and sell you a whitening gel to use at home. This service is very effective, but is also quite expensive and is usually not covered by insurance.
*Note: Teeth with fillings, crowns, or veneers will not whiten.
Finally, many HealthPoint patients want to know whether it’s safe to whiten their teeth.
The answer is yes, as long as the whitening is done correctly and not overly frequently. However, before trying any whitening options, it’s important to get a dental checkup. If you whiten your teeth and have cavities, you can experience pain. Many people experience some sensitivity when whitening, so using a sensitive toothpaste can help.
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*Note: This form is intended for general questions. Please discuss specific health concerns with your HealthPoint Care Team.