Teeth whitening or bleaching products brighten teeth that have been stained or darkened by food, tobacco use, age or injury. There are a variety of in-office and take-home teeth whitening products to reduce or eliminate such stains.
In-office teeth whitening, also called chairside bleaching, takes place during a series of appointments at a dentist’s office. Advantages of in-office teeth whitening over take-home whitening include:
- Professional supervision
- Safe and simple
- No sensitivity
Take-home bleaching solutions can help improve the color and overall brightness of teeth. These kits are simpler and less expensive than, and can be just as effective as, in-office treatments. Cosmetic Dentists provide patients with customized impression trays, whitening powder and whitening gel, the use of which improves the appearance of teeth over just a few days.
Various over-the-counter products, such as whitening toothpastes and bleaching strips, are advertised as being effective teeth-whiteners. However, although based on the same science as professional bleaching, the concentration of effective ingredients tends to be much lower, lengthening treatment time and often not providing the level of whitening desired.
Whitening procedures are effective but not permanent. Depending on the procedure used, whitening may fade over time. Patients are advised to avoid food and drinks that may stain or darken teeth.
Does drinking coffee or soda through a straw actually help prevent staining you teeth?
The short answer is; yes, however, we are asking the wrong question. The reason why a straw can theoretically help is that if the drinks bypass the mouth completely and go directly down the throat and never touch the teeth, then they really cannot stain them.
A better question to ask is: Why are my teeth staining from drinks. Normal teeth are smooth and shiny and do not absorb stain easily and quickly. Over time they will slowly change the color, but usually, it takes years to cause this. The good side to that is there are several tooth whitening systems that can cure this quickly and the results can be long-lasting.
The main reason why teeth can stain easily is that they are covered with soft and hard plaque that absorb stain very easily and can make teeth look darker immediately after drinking dark liquids. Plaque is a combination of food and bacteria that adhere to the smooth surfaces of the teeth and creates a porous surface that acts like a sponge that retains stain making teeth look dark. The best way to eliminate staining of teeth is simply to keep them clean and smooth with normal brushing and flossing. Plaque removal will keep the teeth smooth like porcelain and resistant to staining. If you have any hard plaque or “calculus” on your teeth, it has to be removed by a dental hygienist. Make an appointment with your dental hygienist for an evaluation and oral hygiene instructions and you will be well on your way to a smile that is healthy and resistant to stain.
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