The ways in which we attempt to improve or maintain our appearance has a long history. Where at one time the standards for beauty may have focused on length of hair, body shape or even length of neck, today’s beauty standards are increasingly complex – putting focus on the various aspects of the body rather than one aspect of it (such as hair). Our continuous access to water, nutrition and resources has meant that people can spend less time surviving, and more time managing their appearance.
These days, lip fillers, lash extensions and teeth whitening services are enjoying considerable success in Canada. Why are these among the most popular today? The answer is likely to involve several factors – not least of all the fact that your eyelashes and your smile are among the few parts of your body that aren’t consistently covered with clothing. This means that wherever you go and whomever you talk to, your lashes and your smile are in the spotlight.
It’s more important now than ever to have a healthy-looking smile that you can wear with confidence. A beautiful smile communicates many unspoken things about you such as your health and how well you care for yourself. A crooked smile with staining and tartar formations all over are likely not going to win you any social points – and we haven’t even talked about bad breath!
Talk to Your Dentist
In order to get whiter teeth, there are several things to consider: discolouration, lifestyle and nutrition. Regarding the discolouration of your teeth, you may want to speak to your dentist about your perception of the degree of discolouration. This is because tooth shades vary more than one might think, and because of this our personal standards may not realistically attainable. Your dentist will examine your mouth and determine whether whitening is right for you and whether you need a cleaning prior to whitening, to scale the teeth.
If your dentist recommends a professional checkup and cleaning prior to whitening, it may be that you’re overdue for these important services. Leaving too long between cleanings can result in staining of the teeth, particularly where plaque has hardened into tartar. A cleaning may be just the thing you need to get your teeth back to looking their best.
If you are asking about tooth whitening, your dentist is likely to pop open your chart to see if you have previously reported being a tobacco smoker. This is because tobacco smoke plays a large role in the colour of your teeth, and if you aren’t prepared to quit, your whitening treatment will not be as effective. If you are open to quitting the habit, you can talk to your doctor or your dentist about the various resources available to support you. Consider, too, the quality of your diet. Acidic sodas, alcohols such as red wine and your morning cup ‘o joe could be contributing to the discolouration of your teeth.
How Does it Work?
Tooth whitening formulas exist in different strengths, but all use some form of peroxide bleaching agent. While drugstore brands of whitening are available any time, clinical strength whitening products must be provided by a clinician. And while that might not sound very convenient, clinical strength whitening will offer more whitening power in fewer treatments with less discomfort.
Drugstore brands of whitening have a relatively low concentration of bleaching agent in them, and the result is required use over a longer period of time. The catch, however, is that drugstore brands don’t offer the ability to direct the bleaching agent only where you need it. This means that active ingredients in whitening gums, rinses, toothpastes and strips can travel onto the gums, cheeks and tongue causing sensitivity and discomfort due to the chemicals. Your dentist solves this concern by offering gum barriers while whitening or offering custom whitening trays to take home for personal use. If you have sensitive teeth, it is wise to discontinue the daily use of products with whitening agent in them.
Dental whitening works by traveling through the first layer of the teeth (the enamel) and depositing on the dentin within the tooth. The dentin is the part of the tooth that shows through the enamel (which can be loosely compared to a protective window over the teeth). Dentin yellows naturally with age, but bleaching agents are able to revitalize its colour.
When we whiten our teeth, the effect on the dentin (besides lightening its shade) is a slight dehydration. This dehydration is what we are feeling when we have sensitive teeth after whitening. While drugstore strips do not offer a remedy and tend to leave the dentin to rehydrate on its own, your dentist can provide rehydrating solutions to decrease sensitivity and rehydrate the dentin. Overall, you will receive greater value for your investment with a clinical strength product offered through your dentist.