It’s safe to say that most people wish their teeth were perfectly white. Thanks to advancements in technology, there are many effective options available to those looking for a brighter smile. Teeth whitening has grown in popularity, and if you’re considering a career as a dental hygienist, you’ll probably have more than a few patients coming to you for advice on the best way to whiten their teeth. Teeth whitening methods vary in terms of their effectiveness and safety, and it’s important to know the drawbacks and benefits of each in order to make an informed decision.
Read on to discover seven common teeth whitening methods that you can consider recommending to your patients!
1. Those with Dental Hygienist Training Can Recommend Professional Teeth Whitening
Professional teeth whitening enhances the whiteness of teeth immediately by applying peroxide to the teeth and using a polymerization light to activate the substance. If you have dental hygienist training, it’s important to note that this procedure, while extremely effective, can make a patient’s teeth more sensitive. Thus, it’s important to take a patient’s unique oral health situation into account before going ahead with the professional teeth whitening process.
2. Teeth Whitening Trays and Gels Can Be Effective
For patients who aren’t seeking immediate results, teeth whitening trays and gels can be just as effective as an in-office treatment—although the whitening effect may take 3-6 weeks to appear. Whitening gels or trays can be custom fitted to a patient’s teeth by a dental professional or purchased over the counter. Patients will apply a peroxide gel to a tray and place the tray over their teeth for 1-3 hours daily. When using whitening trays and gels, it’s important to avoid contact with gums as much as possible in order to avoid soft tissue exposure.
3. Patients Can Try Teeth Whitening Toothpastes
Using teeth whitening toothpaste is an inexpensive way to achieve whiter teeth at home. These specially formulated toothpastes contain mild abrasives that target stains on the surface of the teeth rather than bleaching them. While toothpastes won’t be able to correct deeper discolouration and stains, they’re an effective way to enhance whiteness when used once or twice a day.
4. Whitening Strips: A Great Method for Patients to Try at Home
Whitening strips have grown in popularity over the years, and are now a widely accessible whitening method. Plastic strips are coated in whitening gel and applied to the teeth for 30 minutes before their removal. With this user-friendly method, patients will see results in about two weeks. However, graduates of dental hygienist school may want to warn patients that whitening strips can increase tooth sensitivity and should only be used once in a while.
5. Diet Plays a Role in the Whiteness of Teeth
While some foods can stain the teeth and cause yellowing, other foods can have the opposite effect—actually helping to combat stains so that teeth can maintain their natural white colour. As an example, dairy products contain lactic acid, which binds to the teeth in order to prevent staining—and pineapple, when chewed, releases bromelain, an enzyme that has the potential to reduce the appearance of stains.
While a change in diet may not be the most effective way to enhance the whiteness of teeth, it can’t hurt to incorporate more dairy products or pineapple into one’s diet.
6. Looking for the Cheapest Option? Baking Soda
Baking soda has abrasive qualities, making it effective in removing stains and discolouration from the teeth. Patients can apply baking soda to their toothbrush and brush it gently over the surface of their teeth, being careful to rinse thoroughly after. Baking soda can be used twice a day, producing visible whitening effects in about 12 weeks. While baking soda can be applied using a toothbrush, it’s important for patients to continue to use toothpaste to brush their teeth in order to remove bacteria.
7. Good Dental Hygiene Shouldn’t Be Overlooked
Teeth whitening procedures can be appealing as a quick solution to yellowing teeth, but the merits of good oral hygiene practices shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to enhancing the whiteness of teeth. A daily dental care routine that includes brushing and flossing discourages the development of new stains. Additionally, visiting the dentist twice a year for a check-up is crucial in preserving whiter teeth. As a dental hygienist, you can recommend these practices to patients in order to effectively brighten their smile.
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