As somebody with Chronic Resting Dick Face, I do not smile often. But I’ve interacted with enough human beings to know that the old adage “a smile goes a long way” isn’t said for nothing. Years of fear, paranoia, and laziness kept me from dental visits, causing my smile to become, let’s say, less than brilliant. Finally, somebody trolling an Instagram that showed off my stained teeth prompted me to action (that, along with a blinding pain in the back of mouth). I emerged from the dentist chair with a whiter smile and a new lease on life. Frightened to lose that balance, I sought some expert advice from the woman who restored my smile…on how to best maintain a pearly-white grin. Here’s what you need to know.
First, let’s review the basics, the things you probably heard from your dentist as a kid but may have forgotten… that teeth are discolored because of food stains from things like coffee, tea, blueberries, and red wine. These are called extrinsic stains and can usually be removed or helped. Other stains—permanent ones—are called intrinsic stains, and can be the result of taking antibiotics when your teeth were developing as a kid. Those are much harder to deal with. As far as the obvious things you can do to avoid stained teeth…you should be brushing and flossing daily. “You want to be careful not to scrub away enamel at the gum line. You want to go below the gum line when you floss—between the gum and the tooth. That’s where people are either too aggressive or not aggressive enough.”
Hardly groundbreaking information, we know, but diligence is the key. Of course, the tools you use are just as important, and these days, there are hundreds of toothpastes to choose from at the pharmacy. Some promise healthier gums, some promise better breath, some are cinnamon-flavored (ooooh)! And then there are those that promise teeth whitening. Do they work? “Well, it’s true to a point,”… “It takes a long time. There is an agent in there that will lighten teeth, but it will take a while. It’s noticeable, but not as quick as Crest Whitestrips.” So while you may see a difference over the course of a few months, let’s say, don’t expect results overnight.
As for those Whitestrips (they are not available in the UK)? … We often recommend that, if patients want to try something in an inexpensive way before deciding on another treatment.” Perhaps reach for the Whitestrips the week before a big job interview, a first date, or big wedding. But if you’re looking for something a little more heavy-duty than that, something more clinical, there’s one more step you could take hand-in-hand with seeing your cosmetic dentist. “You can fabricate whitening trays, which are comfortable little trays for the upper and lower teeth. You apply a whitening agent to them at home over the course of a week, and then you’ll see results.” Extra-strength teeth whitening in the comfort of your own home, who knew? … there are in-office teeth whitening treatments where dentists will train an LED light onto a solution applied to your teeth, which will also give a whitening effect.