In my last blog “All About Teeth Whitening” I discussed some of the considerations which need to be made in order to decide if teeth whitening is right for you.
But how about after the procedure? I’ve highlighted 5 Home Whitening Treatments that make it possible for almost anyone to achieve and maintain a beautiful and bright smile.
Trays & Take-Home Kits
I always incorporate the use of these kits to help maintain the results of in-office whitening indefinitely. Take-home teeth whitening kits are very effective and cost efficient. Using a lower concentration of peroxide bleach than used in the office, you apply the gel onto a plastic tray that is designed to fit over your teeth. The gel-filled tray is then worn every day or alternating days for an hour or more (sometimes even overnight) until the desired tooth whiteness is achieved. There are several brands of trays also available at retail, including the popular Venus White Ultra Whitening System ($40).
While such kits do not provide the comfort or efficacy of custom-fitted trays, nor do they provide the higher concentration of peroxide bleaching gel that is dentist provided; they do whiten teeth, albeit to a lesser extent.
Strips and Paint-On Gels
When tooth staining is mild, I may recommend an over-the-counter tooth whitener. Over-the-counter tooth whiteners use the same process as the professional versions, but with a much lower concentration of hydrogen and carbamide peroxides in the gel. Disposable, one-size-fits-all plastic strips like Crest Whitestrips ($15 – $45) contain enamel-safe gel and are placed directly on the teeth and are good for eliminating extrinsic surface stains caused by smoking or consumption of certain food and drinks. Some strips even dissolve in your mouth!
Paint-on gels, like Go Smile Pre-Whitening Swabs ($36), are used in a similar manner, simply brushed on the teeth. Whitening strips and paint-on gels are fast, convenient, and relatively mess-free ways to get noticeable results with recommended usage from 2 hours to 21 days.
Toothpastes and Rinses
There are many whitening products on the market that contain mild abrasives to cleanse and polish tooth surfaces, yet are safe enough to use everyday. Others, such as Colgate Pro Clinical White ($3.67), have special chemicals like sodium tripolyphosphate, which helps break down and dissolve stains. Even more toothpastes whiten with a “foaming” action that helps disperse the active ingredients better than regular paste or gel.
Believe it or not, there are some brands that deliver cosmetic results through an optical illusion: Close-Up White Now ($17) contains blue covarine, a chemical deposited on the surface of the teeth during brushing, making the teeth appear less yellow. Mouthwashes and rinses are no longer just for fresher breath: there are new formulas that oxygenate stains and clean the surface of the teeth, both before and after brushing. Adding one or more of these products to your regimen can make a significant impact on your smile.
Toothbrushes and Tools
Angled toothbrushes have been around for a while, and are proven tools to reach more tooth surface area than traditional brush heads. But innovations in toothbrush technology have come far. Reach Total Care + Whitening ($3.79) is a toothbrush that whitens by removing stains while you brush, with a unique calcium carbonate micro-whitening technology embedded in the brush head. And, very popular is an array of popular electric and battery-operated toothbrushes that clean with the aid of pulsating and multi-leveled brushes.
Home Remedies & Healthy Habits
There are also a number of inexpensive, natural ways to maintain your white smile. Use a paste made of two household staples: baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. This is a powerful combination that offers soft abrasion and bleaching action to remove stains without sensitivity. Regular table salt is another great cleanser. Mixed with warm water to make a paste, it too can cleanse and polish, leaving your teeth feeling smooth and looking brighter. A rinse made of diluted apple cider or white vinegar can help with stain removal after brushing, but should not be used daily, as prolonged use can damage tooth enamel.
My last suggestions are not treatments so much as they are tips to keep your teeth healthy and white: keep yellow and brown stains away by not smoking or using nicotine products; and steer clear of foods like cherries, blueberries and beets. Be mindful that your favorite drinks of coffee, tea, and red wine contribute to stained teeth. Limit your intake of enamel-eating beverages like cola and citrus juices. And of course, brush after every meal, and floss regularly.