You may think that teeth whitening is a fad of modern civilization, but you’d be wrong. Humans have been using various chemicals, liquids, and components to whiten their teeth since at least 3000 B.C, when some enterprising soul in Egypt invented a concoction of ground pumice stone mixed with wine vinegar to “clean” the teeth of rich and powerful members of royalty. The Romans used goat urine to brighten their smiles, believing the ammonia in the urine made their teeth whiter. Even back in those early days, having white teeth was seen as a sign of someone’s health and desirability.
Forward to the 1980s, when it was discovered that teeth exposed to hydrogen peroxide (originally intended for use as an oral antiseptic during dental procedures) became noticeably whiter. The effect wasn’t permanent, but further experimentation showed that regular applications of peroxide would allow a person to not only maintain that effect, but increased exposure to peroxide would actually boost it and make teeth even whiter.
That discovery was enough to kick-start a profitable industry and propel teeth whitening into popular culture. The procedure became not only widely available, but affordable enough that the average person could get it done (take that, royalty!). Over the years, teeth whitening has become even cheaper, and the technology used has shifted into high-tech territory; instead of simply applying a peroxide gel, dentists have found more efficient ways to make hydrogen peroxide work as a cleaning agent.
With all that in mind, Charlotte Progressive Dentistry would like to help you decide whether teeth whitening is something for you.
What causes tooth stains?
There are many, many things that can cause our teeth to darken, including:
- Foods like tomato sauce, blueberries, frozen popsicles, curry, dark chocolate, and beets
- Liquids like coffee, tea, red wine, cranberry juice, balsamic vinegar, cola, and soy sauce
- Tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and snuff
- Overexposure to metallic compounds like copper, iodine, iron, and nickel.
- Prolonged use of topicals like tetracycline or even antiseptic mouthwash (chlorhexidine)
- Long-term accumulation of dental plaque
Even the passage of time has an effect on our teeth! Only the luckiest of us can go through their lives without having to worry about their teeth yellowing or discoloring as they grow older. Don’t worry, it’s not your fault — it’s natural for our teeth to slowly lose their original color due to exposure to air and the elements. You could try to go your whole life forgoing food, abstaining from wine, and avoiding cigars, but the reality is that eventually you will see at least a little bit of discoloration in your chompers no matter what you do or don’t do.
Is teeth whitening for you?
If you worry that your teeth are losing their white lustre, then you may want to consider trying a whitening procedure. There are two ways to go about this: over-the-counter methods, such as those offered by companies like Crest and iSmile, or the professional method.
Over-the-counter teeth whiteners are not as effective as getting it done at a dentist’s office, simply because the peroxide amount contained in those products is minimized in order to stay within FDA guidelines. In addition, dentists have a hard time suggesting over-the-counter methods as a viable option because people tend to overuse them, resulting in temporarily sensitive teeth and pain in the gums and mouth.
If you are truly interested in getting your teeth whitened, your best bet is to have an experienced dentist perform the procedure for you. With a professional application of the peroxide method, you can avoid any possible discomfort and ensure that your teeth come out as bright as possible.
The most popular in-office procedures offered by dentists at the moment are:
- The KöR Whitening process, which uses a specialized dental tray to seal a peroxide solution around the teeth, thereby increasing its effectiveness
- The ZOOM! method, which uses a special LED light to hasten and improve the whitening effect
Luckily, Charlotte Progressive Dentistry offers both of these procedures! You can get more detailed information on how Dr. Gregory Camp and his experienced team use both KöR and ZOOM! right here.
If you would like to improve your smile but make sure it’s done right, contact Charlotte Progressive Dentistry — they have the experience and discipline to make sure you get the results you want. You can trust in their dental services!