Driving up north to see the leaves turn beautiful colors is one of the best things about fall. Watching your teeth turn colors isn’t quite as fun!
If your teeth don’t look as bright white as they used to, don’t worry – discoloration is common. Even if you floss daily and brush the recommended two minutes twice a day, eating and drinking things like red wine, coffee, tea, and even berries and beets can turn your teeth a less-than desirable hue. But there’s good news: There are many options that can get your smile sparkling again.
- In-office bleaching. Done at the dentist’s office, this is the fastest (and most expensive) method of whitening. Your dentist will apply a bleaching agent to your teeth and use a special light to speed up the whitening process. Each session takes about 30-60 minutes. Depending on the state of your teeth and how much lighter you’ve decided to make them, this can take one session, or several.
- At-home bleaching. Your dentist will make a mold of your teeth for this option, and then make custom trays that conform to your teeth. You’ll take these home and squirt bleaching gel in them, and then wear the trays once a day for a few hours each time (or even overnight). The whole process takes about two weeks.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) whitening. These are products – including strips or gel that you apply to your teeth – that can be purchased at various drugstores or retailers. They’re similar to the bleaching agent your dentist uses, but since they’re not as strong, the whitening process will take longer.
- Whitening toothpaste. If you’re just looking to remove stains, toothpastes with special chemical or polishing agents might do the trick. But they won’t change the color of your teeth.
Whatever option you decide to go with, be sure to consult your dentist first. There are risks associated with whitening, including tooth sensitivity and damage to the roots of teeth. Your dentist will likely have insight into problems that could arise based on your dental history – and he or she may also have recommendations on what method will work best for your unique whitening needs.