Here are some ways to brighten your smile and keep your teeth gleaming.
What to Do
First see your dentist. Make sure you do not have any conditions that would be aggravated by a particular whitening process. If you're a candidate for teeth whitening your dentist can tell you how much whitening you can expect and help you choose the best technique for your teeth--and wallet.
For stubborn stains consider using your dentist's products. They are the most effective--but the most expensive:
- Bleach and flash. Your dentist combines coating your teeth with a bleaching solution and periodic flashes of light that activate the solution. More than one appointment may be required.
- Bleach at home. Your dentist forms bleaching trays that fit your teeth precisely and gives you a bleaching solution to use at home.
- Veneers or crowns. Your dentist bonds your teeth with shells.
Best bets for less stubborn stains--and less costly solutions:
- Purchase over-the-counter whitening solutions and strips. Look for brands with the highest concentration of peroxide and the longest application times.
- Brush with whitening toothpastes (check the labels for American Dental Association approval).
- Chew sugar-free whitening gum.
- Ladies--red lipstick can make your teeth look brighter.
To Maintain Your Pearly Whites:
- Visit your dental hygienist twice a year for thorough cleanings--they remove many stains.
- Brush and floss after meals.
- Snack on crunchy fruits and vegetables--they clean while you chew!
Be advised that all bleaching solutions can damage your gums and cause temporary tooth sensitivity. To reduce the potential for sensitivity do not brush within one-half hour of bleaching.