Perhaps you’re a tea drinker, or you love red wine — you might even smoke. Whatever the case may be, maintaining a bright white smile can be challenging, even with the healthiest of habits. The good news is that there are many teeth whitening methods that can help you flash those pearly whites instead of those dingy yellows. Whitening Toothpaste Although all toothpastes contain mild abrasives that eliminate certain stains, whitening toothpaste also contains a polishing or lightening agent that can brighten teeth by about one shade, according to Web MD. Because they are sold over the counter, they are safe for most people — but that also limits their effectiveness. If you only need the mildest of whitening, an over-the-counter whitening toothpaste might be powerful enough for you. Over the Counter Whitening Treatments If you’ve tried whitening toothpaste and it isn’t quite strong enough for your needs, consider using an over-the-counter whitening kit. Some kits contain bleach-free strips that you’ll apply to your teeth for 30 minutes twice daily for about two weeks. If you’re consistent about the application of the strips, you’ll notice a change after several days. How long the results last depend on your diet and whether or not you smoke. After about four months, you’ll probably need to start the process over again. If hydrogen peroxide-enhanced whitening strips don’t appeal, try a whitening gel. You’ll apply the gel directly to your teeth with a small wand, also twice daily for two weeks. Like whitening strips, the results will become apparent after a few days and will last up to four months. Alternatively, whitening rinses operate like mouthwash — you’ll swish twice a day for a minute, but the added convenience means it will take several times as long to notice an improvement. With strips and the gel, you’ll get whiter teeth after only a few days; with the rinse, seeing results could take as long as three months. Some people choose to use a tray-based whitener that can be purchased either at the local pharmacy or at the dentist. A tray whitener uses a peroxide-based whitening agent to whiten teeth, just as the other methods. However, unlike strips, gels and rinses, you can wear trays for as long as a couple of hours a day for up to four weeks. The Best Way to Whiten Teeth If you want dramatic results and you want them in a hurry, there is no substitution for in-office whitening. During in-office whitening, the dentist will apply a bleach-based product directly to your teeth while enhancing the treatment with heat. Your teeth will be much brighter after only one visit, which can last as long as one hour. For those people with heavily-stained teeth, more than one visit may be required. There is not one best teeth whitening method, so examine your options and decide which one is right for your teeth and your schedule.
If you’re missing teeth or have been told you need various procedures, you’re probably busy weighing the pros and cons of dental implants or dentures. Although the end result is the same — a beautiful smile — the choice that’s right for you depends on several factors. Here is what you need to know about dentures or implants, and why one — but not the other — may be the better decision. The Pros and Cons of Dentures Dentures, also known as false teeth, are fitted to a mouthpiece that is affixed to the gums with denture adhesive. They can take some time to get used to, and your dentist may recommend soft foods as well as practicing speaking for the first several weeks. Sometimes, even in those who have worn false teeth for a long time, dentures shift during eating and speaking, causing discomfort. They can also cause tooth decay in the healthy teeth that are next to the dentures, in the case of a partial set that is not properly fitted. For most people, dentures are not the best option for these reasons; however, those with a weak jaw or unhealthy gums might find dentures to be a promising option. Dentures have come a long way since the days of bone and ivory. In fact, today’s dentures are stronger and more natural looking than ever before. Although the quality of dentures has improved significantly, if your dentist suggests getting fitted for a set of false teeth instead of implants, be sure you understand the reasons why. In general, dentures can cause further damage to surrounding teeth and gums because they make the nearby areas more susceptible to decay. The Pros and Cons of Dental Implants Dental implants are natural looking false teeth that your dentist will surgically install into your jaw. With proper home maintenance and regular visits to the dentist, your implant can last for decades. Unlike dentures that are normally used to replace several teeth, you can opt to get only one or two implants, making them a popular choice. They don’t require adhesive but can only be used with healthy jaws and gums. In general, dentists prefer implants because they provide a more comfortable, natural option for patients who need tooth replacement — they also won’t damage surrounding teeth or gums. They sound perfect, right? Unfortunately, implants — despite their clear benefits over dentures — are expensive and many insurance plans won’t cover the entire cost, according to the New York Times. Nevertheless, implants, for the right candidates, offer a potentially lifelong solution that is comfortable, durable and safe. If you are a good candidate for implants but your insurance coverage is minimal, ask your provider to use the denture allowance toward the implant instead. Also, if you use an in-network dentist, the cost for implants may be less than you think.