Health Info & Resources for Seniors
How to Get a Brighter Smile
Most people really don’t know why their teeth become more yellow with age and are frustrated with a smile which doesn’t have that pizzazz nymore. There are many factors that can create a dingy yellow smile, including medications early in life, tobacco and even some foods and drink. But the real culprit is Father Time because the dentin underneath the enamel of our teeth darkens as part of the aging process.
Most tooth whitening products contain peroxides that actually pass through the enamel and lighten the dentin inside. When used over time, they can change the shade of teeth to resemble what you had when you were 10 years old. Or push your teeth to a whiteness they never had before! The chemicals work on all teeth but the degree of whitening can vary from person to person. So what kind of system do you pick to get the pearly whites back? There are three basic types of treatments.
- The first type you can buy at a store and are plastic strips coated with the peroxides. The strips are placed on the teeth. Usually this type contains enough for about 10 applications.
- The second is a take home system from your dentist. The strength of the whitening agents can be higher than the store bought and you usually get more material to work with for more applications. Along with that, the trays are custom fabricated by your dentist to fit only you and are usable for a very long time.
- The third type is in office treatments done by your dentist. These are the most expensive usually since they require time in the dental chair. All the treatments work, but the more expensive types tend to be quicker and achieve better results.
There is no known permanent side effects and no age limit established as to when one can start treatment, but generally, it is not recommended for children and early teens. Temporary side effects are sensitivity to cold and gum irritation, but these are usually resolved by shortening the treatment time or stopping treatment for a day or two. Teeth whitening is a wonderful and conservative approach to taking years off your look and is easy and affordable.
Dr. Dave Burt has been practicing dentistry for more than 38 years in the Lehigh Valley and owns Mountainville Dental in Allentown.