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Why Do People Whiten Their Teeth?

Thursday, October 6th

Why Do People Whiten Their Teeth?

Ever see someone smile and find yourself wondering how they manage to keep their teeth looking so white and healthy? Is it simply that they brush, floss and rinse at least twice daily? Or do they not partake in any dark-colored libations such as coffee, tea, red wine or cola? Maybe they've never used tobacco products, which helps keep one's teeth looking clean and healthy.

Or maybe - and more likely - they've had their teeth whitened.

Tooth whitening is the process by which bleach, or another chemical agent, is applied to a person's teeth in order to help remove stains and discoloration, making them appear brighter. This is a procedure which can be done in a dentist's office, or at home using special at-home kits.

So why do people whiten their teeth? There are a number of reasons why people choose to lighten the shade of their teeth.

The number one reason people give for whitening their teeth is to improve their appearance. There is nothing worse than meeting someone for the first time, and being embarrassed to return a smile because your teeth are discolored. Just as most people expect another person to make eye contact as a sign of respect, they also expect to have a smile returned as a gesture of friendliness. Failure to return a smile to someone could be misinterpreted as being unhappy or worse yet, unapproachable.

Whitening one's teeth also can help to improve self confidence. A person with confidence feels ready to tackle any problem and perform any task. Because most people associate confidence with their outer appearance, something as simple as whitening their teeth can go a long way in upping their confidence levels.

Another reason people choose to whiten their teeth is for their profession. Celebrities and those working in the modeling industry make their money off of their good looks. Part of looking good is having an award-winning smile. Business professionals also have motivation to keep their teeth looking healthy, which includes regularly cleaning and whitening. Just as making eye contact is seen as a sign of trust and respect, so is smiling at a potential client or business associate.

Singles on the dating scene can attest to the importance of a genuine smile in knowing when someone is interested in making a connection. According to body language professionals, a genuine smile helps to convey that a person is friendly, interested and willing to communicate. It also helps to make a person seem less threatening when they exhibit an authentic smile in your direction.

If you've decided to give tooth-whitening a try, there are many options available.

If money is not an obstacle in your quest for a brighter smile, receiving professional whitening from a dentist is your best bet. At an average cost of $650 for one application, it uses a heavily-concentrated mixture of hydrogen peroxide to help strip teeth of discoloration. Those who have received this kind of procedure report their teeth are four to six times brighter afterward.

A less-expensive option is one of the many over-the-counter tooth-whitening products available on the market today. At-home products contain a peroxide solution, but in lesser concentrations than what is found in a dental professional's office. The same results which can be achieved in a dentist's office after just one application can take much longer using at-home products. However, at a cost of $10 to $35, at-home options are most affordable for everyone.

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Teeth Whitener FAQ

Many people have stains on their teeth from coffee, cola, and even just day-to-day foods. Most teeth whiteners work by combining oxygen from the air and carbon in the dentin layer of the teeth, which breaks apart any colored molecules still stuck to the teeth (and which aren't removed by regular dental cleanings). Some teeth whitening systems use a whitening gel in combination with an LED light appliance for increased effectiveness, while others only use topical application of liquids or strips.
The process itself usually takes anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on which system you choose. How long will it take to see a whiter smile? Some teeth whiteners produce noticeably brighter teeth within one or two applications, while others take a week or more of regular treatments.
Teeth whitening can result in sensitivity in the teeth and gums. If you're experiencing sensitivity, you can shorten your treatment time during each application or use the product less often than recommended. There are also special toothpastes that can ease sensitivity. But, the whitening process itself is rarely painful, no matter which method you choose.
It is possible for teeth whiteners to damage tooth enamel when not used properly. However, if you follow the manufacturer's directions carefully, there should be no risk to your teeth. (In other words, don't try to whiten your teeth faster than recommended!)
Not much! Most in-office teeth whiteners use the same treatment solutions (hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide) and send you home with trays to use for maintenance that are exactly like what you'd buy to use on your own in the first place. Yes, having your teeth whitened at the dentist's office gives you the reassurance that you're not overdoing it, but you're paying a lot more for it too.
That depends on you! If you avoid smoking and teeth-staining foods and drinks (like coffee and blueberries!), use a straw whenever possible, and keep up with your regular dental cleanings, your pearly-white smile should last a long time - several months to a year or more.
At-home teeth whitening systems are surprisingly affordable! Some of the most effective products cost less than $50 for 20 applications (and you'd pay four times that much for a single in-office whitening treatment from your dentist!).
Most manufacturers of teeth whitening products offer a satisfaction guarantee of at least 30 days, giving you plenty of time to try it out and see if you get results. Just be aware that some products' fine print says that you can only get a refund if the product is unused (not very helpful, we know).
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