Are your pearly whites not all that white any longer? You're not alone. According to top New York City dentist James Eisdorfer, tooth enamel thins with age. When this happens, the underlying yellowish layer called "dentin" shows through. Not only that, but the top layer of enamel becomes more prone to stains as it loses thickness.
Dr. Eisdorfer says that smoking is a guaranteed tooth darkener. (Now you have one more motive to kick the habit.) Colas are also on his list of items that are bound to discolor your teeth. Here again, since even the diet versions aren't all that healthy, you now have another reason to avoid them.
Ironically, though, some of the entries on Dr. Eisdorfer's roll call of tooth tarnishers are good for you in other ways. Tea is at the top of the list and close behind are coffee, red wine, and blueberries. Rather than give them up, follow Dr. Eisdorfer's advice about the pros and cons of various whitening methods.
He cautions that drinking hot water laced with lemon juice, a practice that's often mentioned as a whitening method, actually has the opposite effect. The acid in the juice erodes your already thinning enamel even more.
On the other hand, he says that baking soda is a home remedy that actually works. Add a little water to make a paste and then gently brush all the surfaces of your teeth with the mixture.
Dr. Eisdorfer warns that so-called whitening chewing gum doesn't help at all unless you chew at least 80 sticks a day! Even then, you wouldn't see much improvement. He also says that whitening toothpastes aren't particularly effective.
His choice is whitening strips such as Crest 3D. You need to be religious about following the instructions and never skip a day. You should see some improvement in about two weeks to a month. Results will vary, though, depending on how worn your teeth are.
For at-home bleaching, your dentist can create a custom-made bleaching tray for you by taking an impression of your teeth. You put a peroxide mixture in the tray, position it over your teeth, and keep it there anywhere from an hour to a full night depending on the potency of the bleaching material. Again, results will vary, but this is worth a try.
In-office bleaching is a quick fix that isn't all that expensive and only takes about one hour. Because a dental professional performs the procedure, your gums will be protected to reduce the chances of sensitivity. However, older teeth with worn enamel don't get fully saturated with the bleaching material so the results may not be as good as you might hope. Also, your teeth will eventually go back to their original yellowish tinge. Still, for a special event such as a wedding or a high school reunion where there will be plenty of photo ops, this is a good option.
Veneers are the answer if you're serious about having teeth as white as they used to be. The cost is high, but the price tag may be worth it if you feel that your teeth are making you look older than you should. Porcelain veneers are the thinnest product on the market. They're no thicker than a contact lens. Not only will they solve the dingy teeth problem, but they'll also cover gaps and fill in any chipped areas. Most often, no drilling is necessary and the treatment is fast and painless. The exception is that sometime portions of the teeth need to be removed prior to bonding the veneers onto them, but even then the drilling is minimal. Veneers are durable and stain-resistant. Typically, they last ten years. A huge bonus is that the veneers not only give you a whiter smile, but they can also provide lip support. This creates a much more youthful appearance without the need for fillers or Botox. Note: Veneers can not be placed over existing dental work
Finally, Dr. Eisdorfer reminds you that that rinsing with water after every time you eat or drink anything will go a long way toward preventing stains from forming in the first place. He also points out that wearing red lipstick is a terrific trompe l'oeil trick that makes your teeth appear white by contrast. Fortunately, ruby lips are a big fashion trend this fall, so grab a tube and prepare to smite the world with your newly- brilliant smile!
James Eisdorfer, D.D.S. attended New York University College of Dentistry, has held teaching positions at Columbia University School of Dentistry, Montefiore Hospital and the Albert Einstein Hospital, and has been published in numerous journals. He is also a member of the American Dental Association, American College of Prosthodontics, and the Academy of Osseous Integration. He has a practice in New York City, the Eisdorfer Dental Group.
Want to look younger? Check out these other helpful articles to become your youthful self in no time:
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