The older we get, the darker our teeth usually tend to look. Some of us have brighter teeth but we’ve started to notice areas that look stained and irregular.
While your teeth may still be perfectly healthy, the discoloration can really hamper your desire to smile. If that’s the case, getting your teeth whitened is a simple, straightforward, and non-invasive way to accomplish the mini cosmetic makeover you’ve been thinking about.
So what are the best methods available to whiten teeth or remove stain?
Have Your Teeth Polished Clean
Before you have your teeth whitened, you want to have the superficial or “extrinsic” stain polished off of your enamel. In some situations, this is all you need for your teeth to look whiter. Stains like tobacco or coffee can leave teeth looking dark or even brown, but your hygienist can clean them away to reveal the brighter surface underneath.
Having clean teeth is like starting with a blank slate before you begin any whitening regimen. It allows your product to work more effectively since there aren’t added layers of buildup or deposits to work their way through. That way the solutions can do exactly what you need them to, in less time.
Try Over the Counter Whitening Strips
If your teeth are relatively white to begin with, but you’re bothered by minor staining, then an over the counter kit may be all that you need. Just take note that these are weaker concentrations of ingredients, so they may take longer to whiten your teeth than if you saw your dentist. Some people don’t need a lot of whitening, so generic products work just fine.
Keep in mind, if you need to whiten your teeth more significantly it is usually more cost effective to have it done by your dentist once, than to purchase three or four kits at the supermarket.
Request Custom Whitening Trays
Take a step up from over the counter products and get better results with a prescription strength product available only through your dentist. These gels are used inside of a custom fit tray that keeps it evenly spread across all of the visible tooth surfaces (that way you don’t have to deal with uneven or splotchy patterns). Some offices even have a concentrated strip or pre-loaded tray system that is a little more convenient than placing the gel yourself, but provides better whitening than weaker store-bought solutions.
Try Same Day Laser Whitening
By “better” if you mean “faster,” then an in-house whitening treatment is your best choice. These same day procedures accelerate the results that you would see from a take home professional kit. Your dentist applies the gel to your teeth and a bright light speeds up the breakdown of stain particles. Most providers say that you can see 4-8 shades of improvement in just an hour.
Cover Them with Veneers
Severe internal tooth staining — usually due to things like tetracycline or childhood illnesses — may be challenging or even impossible to whiten out of your teeth. When that’s the case, you may want to opt for a more advanced smile makeover with custom dental veneers.
With porcelain veneers, you can select the exact shade and even the shape that you want each tooth to be. Plus, they won’t ever change colors apart from mild superficial stain that can be polished away during your cleaning.
If you do get veneers, your dentist may still have you whiten your teeth prior to the treatment. Why? Because adjacent teeth that aren’t being covered with a veneer will need to be similar in color.
Keep Your Results Lasting as Long as Possible
To keep your teeth bright, be sure to avoid dark liquids and tobacco products. Touch up your whitening every few months, or at least after your dental cleanings to boost your smile’s brightness. This ongoing maintenance will help you extend your results, so that you don’t have to completely re-whiten your teeth in the future.
Because teeth whitening is considered a cosmetic or elective procedure, it’s usually not covered under dental insurance. Most people will pay for it out of pocket or find a coupon. However, dental savings plans like the ones at Aetna Dental Offers sometimes provide discounts on aesthetic treatments that wouldn’t normally be a medical necessity. Save anywhere from 15-50% on select treatments with a participating dentist. Contact us today to find out how to enroll.
Save 15% to 50%* at the Dentist
With an Aetna Dental Savings Plan.