Whitening Your Smile
How we look and how we perceive ourselves has much to do with our self-esteem. When the color of our teeth makes us embarrassed to smile, it's probably time to get our teeth whitened (bleached).
As one ages, teeth may darken from coffee, tea, smoking, berries and other substances that get into microscopic cracks in the enamel, causing discoloration. Some people have gray or brown bands on their teeth caused by an early childhood fever or tetracycline medication taken when the tooth enamel was forming. In some parts of the country where fluoride is found in naturally high concentrations in the drinking water, individuals have developed teeth with bright white patches or dark brown blotches (mottled enamel or fluorosis).
Not everyone is a candidate for bleaching. Teeth discolored from aging have the best results. If you have tooth-colored resin or composite fillings in your front teeth, they will not change color from bleaching and will stick out like a sore thumb after the procedure. If you would like to have your teeth whitened, call it to your dentist's attention at your next check-up visit. If you are not a good candidate, he or she can suggest alternatives such as bonding or porcelain veneers.
There are various options to whitening your teeth. Bleaching can be an in-office procedure (chairside). It may involve several appointments of 30-60 minutes each. The bleaching agent is applied to your teeth and activated with a special light.
There is also an at-home procedure wherein you will wear a custom-made bleaching tray filled with a bleaching gel for two or more hours daily, or at night, for approximately two weeks.
Some toothpastes have added whitening agents and can be used as an adjunct to the other two procedures. In any case, there is no reason to ever again suffer the embarrassment of discolored teeth.
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