The Smart Side of Beautiful

How to Choose the Best Teeth Whitener for You

by Nicole C. Bridge
Young woman smiling with pretty teeth.
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Everyone wants a gorgeous, sparkling smile. So how do you choose the best teeth whitener for you? A lot of it depends on the state of your dental and gum health. How bad is the discoloration on your teeth? Do you have fillings or crowns? Do your teeth feel sensitive?

Causes of Tooth Discolorization

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, there are a lot of reasons why teeth might stain or look dingy. Some factors contribute to internal discoloration like genetics, illness, trauma or exposure to certain medicines while your teeth were still developing. Others have a more immediate impact like when you eat color-dense foods like berries, or drink coffee or tea. It can be hard to tell exactly what's causing the discoloration. Your teeth are exposed to an awful lot throughout the day and in their lifetime. It's not always clear cut which aspect of your life is causing surface stains (extrinsic stains that form on the surface of teeth), internal stains (develop inside tooth enamel causing the internal structure of the tooth to darken) or both!

Over-the-Counter Teeth Whiteners

If you're ready to make a change and lighten up, first check what's available at the drugstore. There are some teeth whitener options right in the dental aisle that can be pretty powerful. Whitening toothpastes and toothbrushes can remove stains and brighten your teeth. Colgate® Optic White® High Impact White® Toothpaste is safe on your enamel so you can brush with it every day and, when used as directed, can whiten your teeth by as many as four shades, with six weeks of brushing two times daily.

Before you get started, take a look at your teeth and think about what you're trying to correct. If your teeth are deeply yellowed or if you have a lot of crowns and fillings, these might not be the right choice for you. The American Dental Association recommends that patients talk to their dentists. Not every whitening option works for every kind of discoloration. If you've visited your dentist within the past year and had no major issues, you should be A-OK to use cosmetic teeth whiteners and see some improvement.

In-Office Professional Whitening

Professional strength in-office teeth whiteners are the most powerful options. They can lighten your teeth by several shades in one hour-long treatment. Since the product used is a higher concentration than over-the-counter options, your dentist will definitely want to examine your teeth for any pre-existing dental issues. Then he or she might use trays or, in some cases, lasers to whiten your teeth quickly. The results last for about a year or two, depending on your diet and daily oral care routine.

Take-Home Professional Whitening

If you'd rather whiten in the comfort of your own home, ask your dentist about professionally dispensed take-home whitening. Colgate® Optic White® Professional Take-home Kit involves a system of custom-fit trays and peroxide gel that's easy to use. Just fill the trays with the gel and wear them for 30 minutes a day for about a week. Make sure you let your dentist know if you experience sensitive teeth and gums.

Once you find out what you need, go for it! Nothing will give you confidence like your dazzling smile!

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