White teeth are the envy of people all over the world. Unfortunately, eating certain foods, consuming various beverages, and simply aging can result in staining and yellowing of the teeth. For this reason, whitening toothpastes, at home whitening kits, and teeth bleaching at the dentist have become very popular among Americans.
Whitening is not a new process, however. It dates back to many centuries ago, when men and women would secretly swish urine in their mouth, having realized that the ammonia in the urine would result in a brighter, whiter smile. Of course, dentists do not recommend this practice today. Fortunately, there have been many advancements in the industry, which allow for whiter teeth without the need for urine mouthwashes.
Bleaching vs. Whitening
There is a difference between bleaching and whitening, both of which can be performed in many dentists’ chair. Whitening is a promise that aims to remove stains from the surface of the teeth with the use of light abrasives. Many people try whitening their teeth at home with specialized toothpastes and other specialized products.
Bleaching, on the other hand, relies on specialized chemicals. Ammonia and peroxide have been used at home for a long time, though neither are recommended by dentists. Swishing with either can cause lasting damage and discoloration of the gums and other soft tissue in the mouth. There are many at-home ‘whitening kits’ that contain peroxide or other bleaching agents, which can be effective over a period of time.
For the whitest white, however, the best bet is a visit to the dentist. The bleaching process is done with great care and the use of light-activating chemicals greatly improves the hue of teeth.
In order to keep white teeth white, use a straw when drinking staining liquids and avoid tobacco use. Cigarettes and illegal drugs have negative impacts on teeth and oral health.