Global Health Asia-Pacific March 2022 March 2022 - Page 17

What ’ s the best teeth whitening method ?

At-home remedies are convenient but also seek the advice of a dentist to ensure your teeth are healthy enough

Awide range of options are now available to make your teeth whiter , from over-the-counter products to in-chair treatments with a dentist , which leads many to wonder what ’ s the best way to get a better smile while keeping their mouth safe .

The easiest choice is to buy one of the many home remedies , which include toothpastes , whitening strips , and gels . Most of them use hydrogen peroxide , a bleaching chemical that breaks up the colour-causing substances on the teeth , thus lightening them .
“ Generally , bleaching is successful in at least 90 percent of patients ,” Dr Kimberly Wright , a dentist at Advance Dental Arts Center in the US , told Time . “ But it may not be an option for everyone .”
These products work better with yellow , brown , or orange discolouration or teeth darkened by age or food , like coffee , she added . But they ’ re less effective against the gray discolouration typically related to smoking or the antibiotic tetracycline .
Dr Anne Clemons , a dentist at the Cleveland Clinic in the US , recommends substances that stick to the teeth for some time . “ What gives you a good outcome is how much contact time the peroxide has with the tooth ,” she said on the clinic ’ s website . “ Something like a gel or a strip that ’ s held on the tooth for a longer period of time will have better results than toothpaste or mouthwash .” There ’ s no single recommendation for how often people can whiten their teeth as it depends on the type of product , but Dr Wright said at-home whitening kits can usually be used daily until people achieve results , while using them once or twice a month will help keep teeth white .
However , in some cases , repeated use of whitening agents can damage teeth . “ Prolonged use of home whitening products may weaken the surface of the enamel , making it more vulnerable to acid damage or wear ,” wrote Dr Alexander Holden , a dentist and a professor at the University of Sydney , in The Conversation .
Whatever at-home approach you choose , the first thing is to make sure your teeth are healthy . “ If there ’ s an underlying cavity or gum disease and you put a bleaching solution on your teeth and gums , you ’ re more likely to have adverse effects ,” said Dr Clemons .
Using these products could also be risky for those with loose or broken fillings . “ The bleach can seep deep into the tooth and adversely affect the nerve ,” Dr Wright explained to Time .
A more powerful but costlier alternative is the whitening treatment offered by a dentist , which includes both in-office and at-home approaches . Two examples are custom-made trays that are applied on the teeth with peroxide-containing gels , sometimes coupled with a special light that accelerates the bleaching process , and solutions of hydrogen peroxide in water .
“ These products have higher concentrations of peroxide than over-the-counter products and thus work faster than at-home bleaching systems ,” Dr Lauren Levi , clinical instructor of dentistry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai , told Time .
To help prevent discolouration , people can limit staining foods like coffee , tea , and wine , quit smoking , and brush and floss teeth twice a day . Seeing a dentist regularly to remove plaque and stains is also important .
“ Prolonged use of home whitening products may weaken the surface of the enamel , making it more vulnerable to acid damage or wear .”
GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com MARCH 2022
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