Keeping Your Teeth White during the Holidays

We know the holidays are filled with treats and a lack of the normal routine.  For some, this means enjoying your coffee in a big Christmas mug all day long.  For others, it is an uptick in your red wine consumption.

While this year may be different from others in its lack of parties, we will still find ways to celebrate.  Here is how you can keep your smile bright and white for your in-person gatherings and your Zoom get-togethers.

Use a Whitening Toothpaste with an Electric Toothbrush

External stains can build up on the teeth relatively quickly.  You can polish them away by upgrading to a whitening toothpaste.  The mild abrasiveness of whitening toothpastes are effective at removing superficial staining from things like coffee, tea and red wine.

You can improve the whitening effect by using the whitening toothpaste on an electric toothbrush.  The speedy vibrations of the electric toothbrush improve the effectiveness of the toothpaste.  Don’t have one?  That might be a great Christmas gift idea . . . to yourself!

Schedule a Professional Teeth Cleaning

A professional teeth cleaning with one of our skilled dental hygienists will not only brighten up your smile.  It will also give you fresh breath after the holiday break.  The first step in a professional teeth cleaning is the removal of all bacterial buildup from the teeth.  This eliminates the source of bad breath, cavities, and gum disease!

The final step is polishing, in which the dental hygienists uses a specialized rubber cup attachment to massage a gritty paste onto the teeth.  This not only removes surface stains.  It also leaves a smoother texture behind that is less likely to pick up more stains.

Perform Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening

The holidays are a great time to whiten your teeth at home.  There are many great over-the-counter products that do work.  Over-the-counter products also carry the benefits of being relatively inexpensive and easy to find.

What to Look For

The two most important factors in an over-the-counter whitening product’s effectiveness are its active ingredient and its application method.  In order to achieve true whitening results, you must have both.

The active ingredients in teeth whitening products that can penetrate tooth enamel and actually change the underlying color of the teeth are hydrogen peroxide and its close relative carbamide peroxide.  At this time, there are no other chemicals shown to affect the same color change in natural teeth.

In order for the active ingredient to do its work, it must remain in contact with the enamel for a certain period of time.  The stronger the concentration (the higher the percentage), the shorter length of time required for change.  In general, the minimum length of time required for true whitening with a peroxide chemical is 15 minutes applied multiple days in a row.

That being said, genuine results require a method of application that keeps the peroxide chemical in contact with the teeth for that length of time or longer.  This makes whitening strips and gels that use a carrier tray your best bets.  Most generic fit trays will not provide great contact with the teeth, so strips are actually better.

What to Avoid

Read the list of ingredients on any package you are considering.  If you do not see hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide listed, it is unlikely to give you successful results.  You may even find some that claim to be “peroxide-free”, implying that peroxide is not safe for teeth whitening.  This is not true, as peroxide chemicals used as directed are perfectly safe and will not harm you in any way.

You should also avoid anything that claims to work in less than 15 minutes per day.

What if They Don’t Work

Over-the-counter whitening products also provide us with some important information as to how your teeth respond to teeth whitening.  Unfortunately, not all teeth whiten at the same pace.  Some require higher concentrations of whitening ingredients that are not available over-the-counter.  For difficult to whiten teeth, we are happy to help with professional teeth whitening.  Just make sure to let us know what products you have tried and what results you noticed.  That will enable us to give you the best treatment options.

More Questions about Teeth Whitening?

Call Timberlake Dental today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning or a professional teeth cleaning with one of our wonderful dental hygienists.  We will be closed from Christmas to New Year’s, and we look forward to caring for you in 2021!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!