Everyone loves a dazzling smile. That's why so many of us reach for the tooth whiteners when our teeth start to look yellow.
Common foods and drinks -- such as coffee, red wine, and berries -- and, of course, smoking, cause teeth to stain and lose their brightness. The effects are often exaggerated as we age, says Mark Wolff, DDS, professor at NYU College of Dentistry. Wear and tear creates etchings on the tooth surface, "making teeth more susceptible to stains," he says. That's why you might notice that foods you've been eating for years discolor your teeth more these days.
Transforming a dull smile into a bright one can be done safely and effectively with the following precautions:
Beware of tooth sensitivity. Tooth and gum sensitivity is a common side effect of teeth whiteners. "You don't want to use the strongest and fastest [solution] because it comes with the most side effects.
Watch bonding and veneers. If you have bonding or veneers on your teeth, whiten before having dental work done, or skip it altogether. "These don't whiten with bleaching agents. Restorations will maintain their original color while the teeth around them lighten. The end result is a multicolored smile.
Skip whiteners if you have gum disease. Whiteners can accelerate gum deterioration, so talk with your dentist about alternate ways to brighten your smile.
Achieve a whiter, brighter smile with the right product for you.