Last updated 3 years ago
White teeth have become the norm that most Americans strive for. Like a fine watch or nice shoes, sparkling white teeth are a status symbol. Plus studies like the one done by journal PLOS On have come to the conclusion that both men and women are attracted to a white smile. And that job applicants with white teeth are more likely to be hired than their yellow teeth counterparts. With the benefits clear, Time magazine was asked "What's the Best Way to Whiten My Teeth?"
Whitening toothpastes, brightening strips, and dental visits all employ the same chemical for the whitening of teeth, hydrogen peroxide. "The only differences are the concentrations of hydrogen peroxide employed and how they're held against your teeth," explains Dr. Matt Messina, an American Dental Association spokesperson who practices dentistry in Cleveland. Starting with the least potent (and least expensive) method, whitening toothpastes contain 1 to 1.5% hydrogen peroxide. This is good enough to treat surface stains, but will not penetrate the enamel, where the deepest and most concentrated stains are. The build-up from coffee, wine, and cigarettes slowly darkens the enamel over time and is the hardest to treat.
So if you have serious stains a toothpaste will not be enough. The doctor also warns against brushing aggressively, warning that it will not remove the deep stains, but will instead damage the teeth and gums. "I usually recommend the strips over the gels because they stay in place," Dr. Messina explains. If the strips or gel are applied incorrectly, your teeth could look unevenly white. Gum irritation is also possible, says Messina. Over the counter gels and strips contain 6-10% hydrogen peroxide. At these levels, the hydrogen peroxide can reach into microscopic holes and fissures in the enamel to clean away stains. But it is important to remember that whitening agents do not work on caps, crowns or fillings. So if you've had dental work done it is advised that you check with your dentist to ensure the results are uniform.
The dentist also has a stronger whitening system, these "tray-and-gel systems," which contain hydrogen peroxide in the 10% to 15% range. Patients are fitted for a custom tray which they take home with whitening gels. "The custom tray ensures the gel is evenly applied, and it can produce some pretty impressive results," Messina says.
The final option is a series of 10-minute whitening seasons at the dentist. These sessions use a hydrogen peroxide concentration of up to 35% and can make your smile a dozen shades brighter. "Whitening is a strictly cosmetic procedure, so it's almost never covered by insurance," Messina says.
So how white do you want to go? It's a matter of personal preference. The study by PLOS On found people with natural looking white teeth scored as just as attractive as those white ultra-white smiles. But over whitening is possible- "If you whiten excessively, the tooth enamel can actually become translucent, which can make the teeth look blue or gray." Even though teeth become no more healthier when whitened, Dr. Messina finds that the change causes some people to stick to better oral hygiene habits - "I've found people who've had their teeth whitened are better at brushing and flossing" he says. "When you're proud of something, you take better care it,"
Last updated 3 years ago
Specialists warn excessive teeth bleaching can turn teeth to 'mush'.
A study finds that although teeth whitening is a quick way to look younger, over bleaching can cause some side effects. Some dentists are calling this desire to over-bleach "bleachorexia'.
World Boxing Council champion Mia St. John admitted to this condition. Stating that there were times were having white teeth was all she could think about. And that she was brushing and bleaching constantly until her dentist intervened. "He said my teeth could basically turn into mush, just because I was destroying the enamel," St. John said.
Many whiteners can irritate gums and cause them to recede. Other possible side effects are over-sensitivity and brittle teeth. Cosmetic dentist Laurence Rifkin adds that over-bleaching can also have the reverse effect of darkening teeth. "Once the enamel has been chemically eroded away, then it's gone, it's gone forever," Rifkin said. The Australian Dental Association president Neil Hewson told Fairfax, "You have to ask yourself, what is their infection-control protocol? Are the bleaches safe? Is the strength of the bleach going to permanently impair my teeth? What training do the operators have?"
Treat Yourself Well clinical psychologist Louise Adams, a member of the Australian Psychological Society, said bleachorexia is not an actual diagnosis but "it's a very trendy way of looking at things at the moment". "So we've got anorexia, biggerexia, which is what the media were calling men with eating disorders, and we've got orthorexia, an obsession with healthy eating, and now bleachorexia, an obsession with white teeth," Adams said.
No matter what an obsession concerns, it is ultimately still an obsession. And in today's growing superficial world it is increasingly important to stay in moderation and to consult an expert with questions and concerns.
Last updated 3 years ago
BBC reports a 6,000 person study has found oral health among the poorest 20% compared to their richer counterparts. Published in the Journal of Dental Research, the study also finds the poor also suffer from more tooth decay. Other symptoms also include gum disease and gaps in teeth. Although previous research has shown the younger generations to have healthier mouths than previous generations.
Professor Jim Steele, head of the Newcastle University dental school comments "It's probably not a big surprise that poorer people have worse dental health than the richest, but the surprise is just how big the differences can be and how it affects people. Eight teeth less on average is a huge amount and will have had a big impact for these people. From our data, it is hard to say which specific factors are driving each of the differences we are seeing here, but there is probably a real mix of reasons and it is not just about, for example, the availability of treatment."
Professor Richard Watt, the University College London's head of epidemiology and public heath adds that the inequalities in oral health require urgent action to rectify, and more needs to be done to tackle the underlying causes of oral disease.
Sydney Alcock, a Washington Resident, lost all his teeth at a young age due to gum disease, which he admits was caused primarily by poor oral hygiene. He says "I have had false teeth but they don't last, so losing my teeth has made a big impact on my life. It costs a lot of money for false teeth. When I was young we didn't have milk or eggs, or much other dairy. We had to eat powdered eggs. I'm sure that has had an impact on how good my teeth were."
Doctor Sandra White from Public Health England is combating the problem by providing additional guidance on improving the oral health of young people, especially in the lower socio-economic class. And is also developing programs to offer guidance focused on supporting vulnerable adults. She gives the overall advice of not consuming sugary food or drink, brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste - especially before bed, and visiting the dentist regularly to prevent tooth decay.
Last updated 3 years ago
12% of 3 year olds have tooth decay.
Its a tough time for the tooth fairy as a new study showed many 3 year olds have tooth decay. The Public Health England (PHE) study revealed its findings that 12% of 3 year olds have rotten baby teeth; with some areas that number is as high as 32%. The average number of decayed teeth was three. And while many parents believed decayed baby teeth is no big issue, it can be a signal of future oral trouble.
Tooth decay is caused by an abundance of sugar both in food and drinks. It is important to have your children brush twice a day, two minutes of brushing each time.
Dentist Ben Atkins, clinical director of the Revive Dental Care practices in Manchester. He says: "It stores up problems for the future if parents don't ensure their children's teeth are looked after when they're young."There's evidence that once you've got decayed teeth, you will get more. Looking after baby teeth is a really good preventative regime for when adult teeth come through."
One problem the PHE found in their study is the possibility of a decay called Early Childhood Caries. which starts at the upper front teeth before expanding to the rest of the teeth. For 2 year + children, give a skimmed milk or water (as long as the child eats well).
Often, staying away from sugar proved a difficult challenge as it is added to many things (eg. ketchup).
However, Atkins remarks that the rate of tooth decay has fallen massively since 1976 when flouride toothpaste was introduced.
He also points out it is a good idea to bring children to the dentist early to avoid the 'fear factor', and on a regular basis in order to accustom them to it and make it part of their adult lives.
Every year, 25,000 children have teeth removed because of preventable decay.