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Dental and Oral Health Center

Always yellow teeth

08/03/2006

Question:

My teeth have always been yellow, probably because I am on and off with brushing them. I want to get them much whiter, but I don't know how. I'm committed to brushing my teeth, but I need a quicker way. How do I do that? By the way, I am 15.

Answer:

There are several ways to whiten teeth. Before you consider any of them, you must first improve your oral hygiene and have a dental check up to insure that you do not have any decay present. This is necessary as the various whitening systems may change the oral environment for a time. This can happen when you wear bleaching trays and the buffering effect of the saliva is blocked from your teeth for a period of time. Also, when doing anything at home, every bleaching system recommends flossing and brushing before bleaching.

Thus, if you are not caring for your teeth properly, you may put yourself at greater risk for dental problems by bleaching. Another potential problem is your age. When you are young, the pulps of your teeth are very large. There is a much greater chance that you would cause sensitivity in your teeth by bleaching as a teenager compared to a thirty-year-old.

There are several over-the-counter bleaching systems such as Crest Whitestrips. These products do whiten teeth, but not as effectively as bleaching systems that use custom bleaching trays. The systems that use custom bleaching trays are provided by a dentist. The dentist will dispense whitening gel to you, and you will wear the trays with the gel in them for a specified period of time each day. You will need to do this from 10 to 28 days, depending on the materials.

They are usually more expensive than the over-the-counter bleaching materials. There are also in-office bleaching systems offered by some dentists such as Zoom bleaching and laser bleaching. These are much quicker, but also much more expensive.

I would recommend that you visit your dentist for a check up and talk to him/her about your desire to whiten your teeth. They will be able to discuss your options in greater detail and insure that you are a candidate for tooth whitening.

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Response by:

D Stanley Sharples, DDS
Clinical Assistant Professor of Primary Care Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University