Having white and healthy teeth has become a growing and important necessity in our present culture and society. For this reason, for a few years now, there are more and more people paying attention to their teeth and their looks, mainly due to aesthetic reasons.
It is normal that with time, teeth tend to stain or discolor due to the consumption of certain foods or drinks, chronic administration of some medicine or the realization of certain dental procedures that eliminate the natural color of the patient´s teeth.
Therefore, considering the increase in the demand for whiter teeth, specialists in the dental field have been studying several products, techniques, and procedures to fulfill people´s dreams of having white and natural-looking teeth.
What is teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening is dental treatment based on the reduction of a few color tonalities, achieving the desired grade of white, without removing any of the tooth surfaces. This procedure has grown its popularity in the last years, especially thanks to its capacity of being used in patients with different types of dental discoloration.
There are diverse types of teeth whitening procedures that use different chemical agents at various concentrations, increasing the benefits for each individual. This is not a painful procedure for the patient, which can return to its daily routine in no time (1, 2).
What are the benefits of having a whiter smile?
Teeth whitening provides such amazing results that are not only capable of giving a whiter and more natural look to the teeth, but can also do miracles for the overall health of both body and mind. Here are some of the benefits of having a whiter smile:
ü Improves look and appearance.
ü Boosts personal and professional confidence.
ü Improves mental well-being.
ü It makes the person more attractive to the human eye.
ü Minimizes the attention put on other facial issues.
ü It makes the person smile more.
ü Improves the person´s friendly skills.
ü Introduces a positive outlook on life.
Why do teeth change color?
· Food and drink. Coffee, tea, and red wine are among the major staining elements people consume. They have intense color pigments known as chromogens that can affect the white, outer part of the teeth called enamel.
· Tobacco. Tar and nicotine are found in tobacco, two elements that can harm the teeth coloration with constant consumption. While tar is naturally dark, nicotine is colorless until it is mixed with oxygen, taking the characteristic yellowish color that attaches to the tooth enamel.
· Age. With time, the enamel layer gets thinner with regular brushing, allowing the inner layer of dentin to show through with its yellowish coloration.
· Medications. Certain pharmaceutical elements, such as antihistamines, antipsychotics, and high blood pressure medicine can produce tooth darkening. Some antibiotics like tetracycline and doxycycline can discolor the children´s teeth when these are forming, becoming less white later in life. Chemotherapy and head and neck radiation can also darken the teeth.
· Trauma. When receiving a hit in a tooth, this may change color due to a physiological process that increases the production of dentin.
What is natural teeth whitening?
Although most of the time people tend to go to the dentist for an in-office cosmetic teeth whitening, other individuals prefer to go natural when it comes to their teeth coloration, avoiding the use of products that rely on chemicals to whiten teeth. Nowadays, there are multiple ways to whiten teeth naturally, including (5):
Oil pulling. Having great popularity and extension all over Indian medicine, this practice involves swishing some kind of natural oil in the mouth to remove plaque-producing bacteria due to its antiseptic properties. Normally, Indians use sunflower or sesame oil, but any other oil can also work, including coconut and olive oil. Daily sessions of 15-20 minutes will kill enough bacteria to reduce dental plaque.
Brushing with baking soda. Being included in the majority of commercial toothpaste, this ingredient has natural whitening properties thanks to its mild abrasive capacities and its capabilities on producing a bacteria-killer alkaline environment. Brushing with baking soda daily will do the job.
Using hydrogen peroxide. This element has been used for several years to disinfect wounds due to its killing-bacteria abilities. For this reason, mouth washing with diluted hydrogen peroxide a few times per week will reduce the number of oral harmful bacteria and teeth discoloration.
Using apple cider vinegar. Thanks to its disinfectant and natural cleansing properties, apple cider vinegar is also used as a teeth-whitening product. By diluting it with water, it has to be used as a mouthwash for several minutes only a few times per week.
Eating fruits and vegetables. By eating crunchy, raw fruits and vegetables, these will help eliminate some of that plaque around the teeth. Strawberries and pineapples have been deeply studied for their whitening properties.
Preventing stains. What is better than eliminating tooth stains and discoloration? Of course, preventing them from the beginning. This could be done by limiting the consumption of staining foods and beverages like coffee, red wine, sodas, and dark berries, limiting sugar intake, consuming plenty of calcium through the diet, among other dietary factors.
Regular brushing and flossing. It is very important to not underestimate the true value of brushing and flossing. By including these two elements into the daily routine, teeth will conserve their natural white color as long as possible. Brushing needs to be done at least twice every day, while flossing can be done once a day to achieve maximum results.