Most people have a natural colour for their teeth that is within in the range of light greyish-yellow shades. Teeth naturally darken with age and their appearance can be affected by surface stains from things such as tobacco and coffee. Even though teeth are not naturally white, many people want a brighter smile and because of this, a wide range of whitening options are available.
Products used for whitening teeth generally fall into two main categories – surface whiteners and bleaches.
Surface whiteners use special abrasives to remove surface stains. Some of these products are available in a paste or gum format. These products are considered safe and the abrasives used are unlikely to cause excessive wear on teeth. The effectiveness of these teeth whitening products is limited to surface stains and these products are no substitute for professional cleaning at your dentist.
Bleaches are peroxide-based and are capable of altering the colours of teeth. It should be noted that not all discolourations respond to these tooth-bleaching treatments. Your dentist should be consulted about the source of discolouration and determine whether a bleaching treatment will be effective for your teeth. This consultation will also insure that fillings, root canals, crowns and any other dental appliance is not at risk.
Bleaching should only be done under a dentist’s care and in a controlled environment such as the dentist’s office.