Everybody loves a bright white smile, and there are a variety of products and procedures available to help you improve the look of yours.
Many people are satisfied with the sparkle they get from brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, flossing once a day, and regular cleanings at the dentist's office. However, if you decide you would like to go beyond regular care to make your smile look brighter, you should investigate all of your options.
Dr. Lyotard's Tips for Whiter Teeth
- Brush your teeth 3 times a day and floss thoroughly 1 time a day. Healthy gum tissue is a pretty, light pink color which is a nice contrast to your nicely brushed and shiny teeth.
- Use a top of the product line Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush. In Dr. Lyotard's opinion, this is the best toothbrush on the market today. The unique brushing modes and brush head design remove significantly more plaque, reduce gingivitis and are gentle on your dental restorations when used as directed. It has been said that your teeth will be 2 shades whiter when using this toothbrush in combination with a good fluoride toothpaste. Also, remember to change your toothbrush head each 3 months for the best results.
- Use a whitening toothpaste with a low abrasiveness level. Dr. Lyotard personally likes to use the Opalescence whitening toothpaste that we have in our office.
- Drink dark colored liquids through a straw.
- Breathe through your nose because this helps your body's natural cleansing mechanisms work properly.
- Brush your tongue when you brush your teeth because the taste buds on your tongue trap stains.
- Be sure your retainers are clean before you put them on your teeth at night so you don't transfer germs and stains from your retainers to your teeth and gum tissue.
Finding the Best Treatment for You
Ask Dr. Lyotard whether whitening procedures would be effective for you. There are many causes of stained teeth and whiteners do not correct all types of discoloration. Discolored teeth are often caused by certain medicines taken during the development of the teeth, tooth trauma, root canal treatments and certain root fillings. This type of discoloration is internal or inside the teeth. Staining of the teeth from certain foods, beverages and tobacco is also common. This type of discoloration is usually external or superficial. For example, yellowish teeth will probably bleach well, brownish teeth may bleach less well, and grayish teeth may not bleach well at all. Likewise, whitening may not enhance your smile if you have had tooth-colored fillings or crowns. The whitener will not affect the color of these materials and they will stand out in your newly whitened smile. In these cases, you do have other options, such as porcelain veneers.
Tooth Whitening Treatments
There are many types of tooth whitening treatments. Before whitening your teeth do your homework and investigate the pros and cons of each system. Dr. Lyotard believes that a dental practitioner and a parent, if the patient is a minor child, should supervise whitening of the teeth. While tooth whitening products are effective and safe if they are used appropriately, they can be extremely harmful if the instructions are not followed and if common sense is not utilized. The whitening product Dr. Lyotard recommends can be used in your clear retainers or Invisalign appliances in most cases.
General Instructions for Opalescence (20%) Tooth Whitening System
Read the directions that come with the bleaching product. Below are a few very important additional general guidelines to follow when you whitening your teeth.
- DO NOT EVER sleep with bleach on your teeth. This can permanently damage your teeth, making them dry, brittle and very sensitive.
- DO NOT EVER allow the bleach to make contact with your gum tissue. If you feel it burning your gums do whatever it takes to keep the bleach off your gum tissue. The bleach will cause your gum tissue to recede and it will not grow back.
- Do not bleach your teeth excessively. A good rule of thumb is to avoid making your teeth whiter than the white part of your eyes because it will look unnatural.
- If you experience increased tooth sensitivity or any other tooth or gum tissue discomfort, discontinue using the bleaching product and do not use it again until your teeth feel completely normal again.
- Store any unopened tubes of bleach in the box in the refrigerator because it helps the product maintain its strength.
- And finally, use your common sense – if it hurts, don't do it! We want you to keep your beautiful teeth for a lifetime.
General Directions for Safe Use of Gel Whitening Products
Remember, each product has special instructions so please read and follow the directions that came with the whitening product. The notes below contain tips on how to use the product sparingly and some general instructions for the product purchased at our office. Above all else, please use common sense; bleaching products can be harmful if misused.
- Using dress retainers, Invisalign aligners or any other full-coverage, clear retainer type of appliance, place a very small amount of bleach into the deepest part of the tray.
- Using the tip of the syringe, spread the bleach so that it is evenly distributed from one side to the other, then place the appliances in your mouth. There is no need to waste any of your bleach on the teeth that do not show when you smile.
- If at all possible, do not swallow the bleach as it foams up and begins to seep out of the tray. Spit the excess in the sink and continue wiping the bleach off of your gums with a damp washcloth, your damp finger or a Q-tip to prevent permanent damage to your gums.
- If you become thirsty while bleaching, keep a glass of water with a straw ready and try to drink through the straw to avoid swallowing the bleach.
- Once your teeth have reached the desired shade you will probably only need to use your whitening product about once a week to maintain the result.