Dental health experts have been saying for years that people who drink a lot of red wine, black coffee or dark colas are more likely to have stains on their teeth. But if you can’t bring yourself to give up that morning cup of coffee, you might want to consider your options when it comes to brightening your smile. The American Dental Association suggests there are two main ways to whiten teeth: bleaching products and surface-removal products. Bleaching methods involve peroxide and can change the tooth’s natural color; surface-removal products use physical or chemical actions to get rid of stains on the tooth’s surface.
People who want to whiten their teeth should first talk to their dentist. He or she can do one of three things: professionally apply a product in the office; dispense a product for use at home; or recommend an over-the-counter option. The patient’s degree of tooth discoloration and budget will both become factors in this decision. Patients who receive professional treatments typically see results in a much shorter time because in-office whitening procedures are very strong and are usually completed in an hour. By contrast, at-home treatments generally take a few weeks to begin working.
As whitening treatments became more popular over the last decade, the American Dental Association developed its own seal of acceptance to help consumers determine the safety of a particular product. The American Dental Association suggests people look for this seal when choosing over-the-counter treatments, including whitening toothpastes. These toothpastes are not as strong as in-office treatments and do not use bleaching methods. Instead, they use polishing agents to improve the tooth’s appearance and remove surface stains.
Regardless of the whitening method you choose, it’s important to review your options with your dentist. Even if you opt for an over-the-counter treatment, your dentist will be able to recommend one that will work best for your particular situation.