Teeth Whitening Options for a Brighter Smile

Teeth whiteners are all the rage, but they don't last forever. Choose the one that's best for you

Whitening toothpastes contain fine abrasives that temporarily remove stains from teeth

Teeth are typically a soft shade of grey or yellow – colours that can darken with age or with staining from food, beverages or smoking. But you can brighten your smile with the following teeth whitening methods 

Whitening toothpastes, chewing gum, whitening strips, gel trays and professional bleaching by a dentist are now making it possible to lighten tooth enamel for that coveted brighter, whiter smile.

Whitening toothpastes and chewing gums contain fine abrasives that help to temporarily remove surface stains from teeth, although the results may not be as dramatic as you might expect.

Over-the-counter teeth-whitening products applied to the teeth in strips or trays are peroxide-based and work by lightening the surface enamel of natural teeth (they will not work on caps, crowns, veneers, dentures and certain types of natural tooth discolouration). It’s important to keep the peroxide solution away from gums to prevent gum irritation or the development of tooth sensitivity.

The advantage of having a dentist whiten your teeth is that dentists are able to use a stronger concentration of the bleaching agent, are able to protect the gums and other soft tissues in the mouth, and can use light, heat or laser treatment to enhance the effect. 

Regardless of the method you choose, none of these procedures have a permanent effect, so expect the discolouration to reappear and the treatment to need repeating. Further, the long-term effects of teeth whitening have not yet been determined as these procedures are relatively new.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.