Ensure a ‘White Christmas’ with a bright smile

By: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
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While it may not snow in Folsom, there are still ways to ensure a ‘White Christmas’ this year.

During the holiday photos many people can feel self-conscious about their teeth and their smile. This year, treat yourself and shine bright in those family photos.

People love to have whiter teeth. The American Association of Orthodontists found that 90 percent of dental patients would like to have whiter teeth, said Dr. John Luther, chief dental officer for Western Dental.

“Whiter teeth make people feel better in the way they appear, and it is a great way to improve their smile,” he said. “While over time, teeth do change color, it is mostly because of the things we drink such as coffee, tea and red wine. Smoking has a heavy staining quality to it as well as just aging. Another reason could be certain types of medications.”

How teeth whitening works is simple. Whitening products contain either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, two tooth bleaches.

These bleaching agents break stains into smaller pieces, making the color less concentrated and the teeth brighter and whiter.

Teeth whitening does not work on all teeth such as brown or grey colored teeth, Luther said.

Another thing to keep in mind is when you whiten your teeth, the longevity of it will last depending on what you drink. The whitening can last from six months to a year.

While getting your teeth professionally whitened gives you a more immediate and rapid response, there are also other options.

Second to professional whitening, whitening strips is the next best thing as well as at-home whitening kits. Both can be found at your local drug store and can be bought off the shelf or over the counter.

“The over-the-counter kits usually contain 10 upper and lower whitening trays and you simply place them on your teeth for an hour a day,” Luther said. “If you go through the whole packet, you might see a difference from one to six shades whiter.”

The whitening agent at the most minimal level is whitening toothpaste, he said.

“Many different kinds of toothpastes claim they whiten teeth and they do, but only to a minimal level,” Luther said. “Over time you may get just a slight difference.”

Before scheduling your whitening appointment, make sure all dental work is complete last. Luther said it is important to know that fillings and crowns will no change color when you whiten your teeth.

For people who whiten their teeth a lot, they can experience some sensitivity. If this happens, it can be stopped with a fluoride application, he said.

If you plan on whitening your teeth, make sure they are clean and healthy.

For those who are hesitant because they might glow in the dark like Ross from ‘Friends,’ Luther said whitening is a gradual process.

“You will never get such a drastic change that you will be shocked,” he said. “One advantage to having it done in a dental office is the dentist will monitor your teeth.”

For more information on teeth whitening, contact your local dentist.