Patients who visit Fergus Orthodontics are looking to get a straight, healthy smile. Many of them also want a white smile. Several products out there promise you a white smile, from toothpaste to at-home whitening kits to charcoal products. Are any of them effective? Are all of them safe? What is the best way to whiten your teeth? Should you whiten your teeth with braces?
At Fergus Orthodontics, we know many patients don’t just want a straight smile; they want a straight smile with beautiful white teeth. Patients think using a whitening toothpaste during treatment may help, or even using an at-home whitening treatment. Should you whiten your teeth with braces? It’s probably not a good idea while you’re wearing your braces. It’s best to wait until after your treatment. We’ll explain why.
What Is Teeth Whitening?
What do we mean by teeth whitening? It’s about more than brushing your teeth with a specific toothpaste. Teeth whitening involves using specific solutions, such as those containing hydrogen peroxide or carbamide, to bleach out stains or discolorations. They clean stains from the enamel, the hard outer shell of your tooth that protects the living interior. The chemicals cause a reaction that eats away at what’s causing the stains.
You might see a dentist or orthodontist use a special UV light when performing teeth whitening. This special light can accelerate the chemical reaction and dry the teeth faster. It means you spend less time in the chair getting your teeth whitened. Patients often require more than one treatment to get their teeth to the shade of white they prefer.
Why Aren’t My Teeth White?
There are many ways your teeth can become discolored. Two common culprits are certain foods and certain drinks. Coffee, tea, fruit juices, and soft drinks can stain your teeth. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and other fruits can also discolor your teeth.
Another huge culprit is tobacco products. Smoking or chewing tobacco can stain your teeth yellow or brown over time. Tobacco products can also cause mouth and throat cancers and lung and other cancers. It’s a good idea to break the tobacco habit as soon as possible.
Poor hygiene and tooth decay can discolor your teeth. Plaque and tartar buildup can lead to a yellowing of your enamel. Tooth decay can cause your teeth to turn brown or gray where a cavity is forming. If you see this, visit your dentist right away. This could mean a cavity is imminent. Be sure to visit your dentist twice a year for a good cleaning.
Finally, trauma can cause discoloration to your teeth. If you’re in an accident or have an injury from sports, the impact on your teeth can bruise or damage the living tissue of the tooth underneath the enamel, causing the enamel to become discolored. You can also end up with discolored teeth because of certain prescription medications. Aging can also discolor a tooth because you lose enamel as you age, and stains accumulate over time.
Which Is Best, Professional or Home Teeth Whitening?
People visit the store and see tubes of toothpaste that claim to be whitening kinds of toothpaste. They also see home kits that promise to whiten their teeth. They may even see claims that brushing with charcoal will whiten their teeth.
Do any of these work? What is the easier way to get whiter teeth? Some do to a certain degree, but none will give you the results that professional tooth whitening will. Some home products may even cause harm or damage if not applied properly.
What happens with a professional tooth whitening? You’ll start with a professional cleaning from your dentist to remove plaque and tartar buildup so you get the best whitening results. Your dentist will use a special whitening solution with a much higher peroxide concentration than you would find in a home kit. They will use a UV light to speed up the process. Your dentist will know exactly how long to leave the solution on your teeth without damaging them. Leaving white strips on too long can cause your teeth to be sensitive.
It may take more than one session to get the shade of white you want, but professional whitening can do this with fewer sessions than you need with at-home tooth whitening.
Some people wonder if whitening or charcoal toothpastes help. Whitening toothpaste can provide a little tooth whitening, but it’s often not much. Charcoal toothpaste can temporarily whiten your teeth, but you should not use it very often, or it can damage your teeth and make you ill.
Professional teeth whitening is the best way to go if you want proper tooth whitening.
Should I Whiten My Teeth With Braces?
At Fergus Orthodontics, we’ve had patients ask if they should get teeth whitening while wearing braces. It’s not a good idea because the whitening solution cannot get underneath your brackets. That means you’ll have spots on your teeth once your braces come off. It’s best to wait until your braces are off before trying teeth whitening solutions. We would recommend holding off using whitening toothpaste or other home products.
You can work to keep your teeth at the white level they are now so that teeth whitening will be more accessible later. Make sure you brush and floss regularly and visit your dentist twice a year for proper cleaning. Avoid foods and drinks that can stain your teeth, and stop using tobacco products if you use them.
Once your braces are off, professional teeth whitening can bring an extra sparkle to your beautiful new smile. Just wait until your braces treatment is complete to get the best results for your smile. If you have other questions and you’re in the Jonesboro, AR, area, contact Fergus Orthodontics, and we can guide you on the best ways to get white teeth after braces!