Are you embarrassed by your smile? Are you searching for a simple and inexpensive way to whiten your teeth? With so many options, how do you know which one is right for you?
The easiest route is to limit foods and drinks that are known to stain teeth: soda, tea, coffee, red wine, blueberries, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, tomato sauce, and grape and cranberry juice. Try sipping some water after eating a couple of bites, use a straw so that the front of your teeth can be avoided all together and always brush immediately following.
Getting more greens in your diet (along with other veggies and fruit) could help thwart staining. Apples, celery, and carrots act as natural stain removers, while greens such as spinach, broccoli, and lettuce create a film over the teeth that serves as a stain barrier.
Smoking also causes a build up that can yellow teeth and these stains can take a lot longer to lighten. If you smoke, please quit. Apart from staining your teeth, smoking wreaks havoc on your entire body and health.Â
If you have minimal staining, whitening toothpaste* is a simple way to whiten your teeth at home. Brushing two to three times a day can whiten your teeth four to five shades after about a month of consistent use. My favorite is Arm & Hammer Dental Care Advance White Tartar Control Baking Soda & Peroxide Toothpaste, Fresh Mint ($3.79).
My dentist told me years ago to rinse with hydrogen peroxide because it strengthens and whitens teeth, as an alternative to expensive teeth whitening procedures. He said that the peroxide actually fortifies cavities (essentially, repairing them) and hardens the enamel on your teeth to prevent cavities from forming.
Teeth whitening strips may be more appropriate for someone who has more staining. These are plastic strips coated on one side with hydrogen peroxide. They can be used nightly for two to four weeks, depending upon the degree to which you want to produce a lighter shade.
They still are not as effective as dental whitening, but they can create lighter teeth. Most four-week kits cost between $20-40. The strips donâ€™t necessarily adhere completely to the teeth, and there may be more whitening in front than in the back of each tooth.
Experts say that over-the-counter teeth whitening products are an affordable alternative to professional treatments. Clinical testing shows Crest 3D White Whitestrips Advanced Vivid ($42.99 for a 28 strips), formerly Crest Whitestrips Advanced Seal, to be nearly as effective as professional light-assisted whitening, although results may not last as long.
Advanced Vivid Whitestrips contain extra polymers that help them better adhere to teeth, creating less saliva mess and less slippage than previous Whitestrips versions. Reviewers say that results are visible after three days and more pronounced at the end of treatment. Crest Advanced Vivid is designed to be used for 30 minutes, once per day for 14 days.
You can also whiten your teeth at home with gels that are placed in mouth guards and worn at night. This is often the same procedure a dentist uses to whiten your teeth, but the peroxide level is weaker in over the counter kits. Further, mouth guards are custom made for people at the dentist.
Finding a mouth guard that fits properly may be problematic with over the counter sets. Some sets now come with flexible mouth guards that can be molded to the teeth after being soaked in warm water. You should definitely look for these, since improperly fitting mouth guards can let peroxide solution leak to the gums where it can cause gum irritation. Whitening your teeth at home with gel kits can range in cost from about $40-100 and up.